Recently, I had “the talk” with my four children, two sons and two daughters. For Black families, “the talk” is not about the birds and the bees. The talk is about what to do when you encounter the police. It is a talk about how to stay alive. My mother and my father had a similar talk with me when I was a child. Their parents had the same talk with them when they were children.
Generation after generation has hoped that theirs would be the last generation where such a talk would be necessary. But it never is.
I would love for my grandchildren to live in a world of trust, a world where law enforcement is a source of safety, service, and community. But that day will not come until America makes some changes.
Change is hard. It involves admitting our flaws and showing humility. Change is also essential if we as a nation are going to heal and finally live up to the charge in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”
The first step to recovery is admitting the problem. Our country struggles to face the reality of the problem. This includes many elected officials, despite endless statistical data on incarceration rates by race, employment rates by race, average income by race, congressional representation by race, access to quality healthcare by race, access to quality education by race or any number of other factors.
Numbers do not lie. We have a problem.
Currently, riots are breaking out all over the United States in response to the murder of George Floyd. North Carolina has activated the National Guard in Raleigh and Charlotte. As I write this, I am praying for the safety of all of those involved, for the rioters, the first responders, the members of the National Guard, the selfless individuals who volunteer to clean the streets the mornings after, and for the law enforcement officers.
These riots, like the times we live in today, are scary. People are upset, not just over George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. People are upset because this keeps happening: Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Sam Dubose, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, and more. These are a few from the current decade, but every generation has a similar list. Willie Grimes, Emmett Till, Michael Donald, just to name a few.
People are angry because there seems to be no way to be heard. Speeches and writings are ignored. Peaceful gatherings are met with hostility. Protesters are discounted. Taking a knee is criticized. So, when injustice keeps happening and no one seems to care; officials and government leaders pay lip service while others look the other way, what is there left to do?
None of us asked to be here; but here we are. We have inherited the aftermath of slavery, Jim Crow, and the political ‘Southern Strategy.’ We now must do something about it so that we can unify our communities, our state, and our nation.
I applaud the efforts that the North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has taken so far and ask the governor to continue showing leadership and open a dialog with Black community leaders and law enforcement officials throughout the state. It is time to have the most important talk yet, a forum where we can finally be heard.
Let us start this new talk to make sure all our grandchildren will not live lives fearing the very men and women charged with keeping them safe. Let us let them live lives free and safe from oppression and brutality.
Nathan A. Click is the founder and CEO of Pearl Financing LLC, a financing company which caters to small and medium sized business and real estate investors. He is a former U.S. Air Force officer and a founding member of the N.C. Centrist Coalition, the North Carolina State Leader for Stand Up Republic, and a member of the Institute’s Leadership Counsel.