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COLUMNS

Powell: A time for everything, please come home alive for me

Staff Writer
Amarillo Globe-News
Amarillo Globe-News

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes, chapter 3

As I sat in my recliner watching the evening news on Memorial Day, I began to lean forward to the edge of my chair as I heard about Mr. George Floyd’s death and the manner in which he died. I was heartbroken, frustrated, angry and devastated that police brutality continues to exist. I would not have believed the circumstances surrounding his death if I had not seen the brutal and painful video with my own eyes. Mr. Floyd was helpless and laying on the ground, handcuffed and feeling the pressure of a neck compression. Thanks be to God for this video! Because of the inhumane treatment and the lack of action by the three officers, who watched even as Mr. Floyd is calling his deceased mother, he transitioned to be with her.

I'm grateful we live in a city that has focused on community policing and building relationships between police officers and the citizens they serve. Our new police chief, Chief Birkenfeld, is committed to establishing and continuing these relationships. Our officers care deeply about our residents and the Amarillo community and they understand that the kind of behavior exhibited by those officers in Minneapolis is NOT ACCEPTABLE in Amarillo.

We all know that racism is alive and well. What must we do collectively as human beings to change the culture and make a difference? I am so tired of the racial divide. Racism stops with me and you! I want to continue to be a change agent and part of the solution. When will we stop living in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc.? We are not born into racism. Racism is taught in the home. Everything starts at home with our children. It takes a lot of practicing specific thoughts to become racist. When you group people together in broad and sweeping generalities, what happens? YOU see every African American person or Caucasian person the same way. You are part of an old, old, old regime.

Because of my relationships for the past 30 plus years, I know lots of good citizens who are very capable of respecting one another, creating environments of safety, sharing open dialogue and seeing all our common ground. “We are more alike, my Friends, than we are unalike.” – Maya Angelou

The sad truth is that African Americans in this country are pulled over by police officers more often than not for no just cause. Most people reading this have not had that experience – a privilege that comes just from being white. I can’t believe this day has come, and I still must talk to my grandsons – one 6’2” and 22 years old and the other 6’4” and 21 years old – about what to do and not do if you are stopped by a police officer. I plead with them “please come home alive for me.”

What can we do to work every day to eliminate racism? It’s important to remember that what is truly in our control is our own thoughts and actions. Our friend and neighbor, the poet Claudia Stuart writes:

“Don’t let other people define you. Because then you start living up to their expectations of you. Think higher than that. Be your own person, then; Be better. Make up your own mind about people, and hope they do the same for you. When people call you a derogatory term, think: That’s all they’ve got on you. You are your own person – take charge. Always keep color in your life – it’s beautiful.”

“Treat others as your brother and want the same for them, with justice and love for humanity, that sense we got from Him.” – Claudia Stuart

What happens when good people rally? We move forward into a future where we take personal responsibility for caring for every one of God’s children.

Freda Powell is mayor pro tem and a member of the Amarillo City Council.