THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (June 8, 2020)
A few random thoughts …
I have been very confused and distracted this past week. I’m not sleeping well, partly because my conscience troubles me. What is going on in the world today is disturbing to say the least, and I am not processing the uncertainty very well. I wrote to one of my few black friends the other day. I told him I feel complicit in my complacency, and I vowed to better understand the systemic racism that has obviously affected him and his race. I needed to say that, even though my words don’t mean much. I needed to acknowledge my part in all of this. For my own peace of mind, I need to start this dialogue, especially coming from a country which (at least used to) claims to value freedom. My African Canadian friend wrote back and said perhaps we’ll discuss the issues some day, and he can share his reality with me. I don’t know where I fall on the racially tolerant vs. intolerant scale, but I know I have implicit biases. I am, after all, a white man, born and raised in The City of Buffalo, where more than 50% of residents are black. I have never known racial profiling. I have never feared that someone might kill me because of the colour of my skin. I cannot imagine that. The one thing that has become apparent by all that is happening right now, is that I can no longer look the other way. The issues have never been more obvious. The videos and news reports are hard to ignore.
The other day, I wrote to a friend in our community who is a retired policeman, and I asked him for his take on the recent George Floyd murder. I’d just read and re-posted the opinion of a Massachusetts policeman who is considered to be an expert in the use of force by policemen. His reaction, not surprisingly, was outrage at the brutality of that Minneapolis murder. It is his job to instruct young police officers on the proper use of force, and in his opinion, the Minneapolis police officers exhibited an horrific abuse of power. My local friend felt much the same way. I ask myself how did it get this bad? I’m sure a lot of people are asking the same question. While this is not a popular opinion right now, I think it is simplistic to blame racist cops for all of this. This evil goes much deeper than just law enforcement. This is our societal problem. We demand accountability, we blame our leaders, but who is it who elects those leaders? When do each of us look in the mirror and ask what WE did to propagate this evil? I don’t pretend to know how to change any of this, but I am going to start with ME. I feel that if we don’t start talking about and dealing with this problem soon, we’re doomed.
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED