I have always been utterly confused when two parties can feel so passionately opposite about the same topic. For me, I feel if we give each other the ample amount of compassion, we can listen, learn and grow at least enough to find our way to the middle together, having both gained some mutual respect for the other side we had previously misunderstood. I am blessed to not have anyone in my life who condones the act of racism (something clearly intolerable) and that which has never called for a conversation of debate. However, as a non-POC, I will not fully understand the emotions which strike when these horrific headlines hit our homes on screen, let alone understand how it feels to watch it take place in your actual neighborhood. Something I didn't realize was needed before this was the conversation with (and education from) those who are impacted more regularly by racism, not because it popped into their news feed, but because they live in that constant headspace through their daily experiences. I may appear to have recently been silent to some, but really, I've been doing my best listening. In return, I again hope to learn, grow and just as importantly, amplify these voices I've heard.
There are some things that are obvious for me in all this mess:
Racism is intolerable and I know for sure, that especially in Santee, hate has no home here. The destruction of businesses and private property is unacceptable, and I have had no problem personally standing guard to protect our town from potential rioting and looters. Being a part of law enforcement is a privilege and the badge is expected to be worn with honor, and treated as such while you serve and protect.
A childhood friend of mine recently said:
I'd just like to point out that the common idiom "A few bad apples" is actually a full phrase that ends with "spoil the whole barrel." People seem to forget that last point, as if they'd leave a couple of rotten apples in their fruit bowl at home, allowing them to continue the release of ethylene gas and destroy the rest of the good apples. Of all the reading and listening I've done lately, this one seemed to really stick with me. With as much respect as I have for law enforcement, it doesn't mean we can turn a blind eye to those abusing their privilege and the systematic oppression must end now for us to truly be the UNITED States of America. It also means that among the peaceful protesting, the folks who cross the line into rioting are not to be tolerated. And no matter what in all of this, we are not to treat each other unkindly. So if I'm not a racist, I remain peaceful when protesting and I don't disrespect the law, what else can I do to help? Well, I am in a unique position to take action and commit to change. Meeting regularly with the offices of our elected officials gives me an ability to seek out reform solutions locally, hoping for a more positive future for our region and beyond by demanding more from the leaders we trust.
As a direct representative of our Chamber of Commerce, I can easily say we support our community and local businesses; that's a given. As your neighbor, friend and appointed representative in the role I play at this organization, I commit to you all that I am here for the betterment of our hometown and that I will not remain silent when any bad apples come to Santee.
With much love and respect,
Kristen Dare, CEO