Guest Op-Ed: Tough Conversations

By Damali Vidot

In recent months, our lives have changed significantly.  Canceled events, learning/teaching and working from home, lay-offs, masks covering the warm smiles that once greeted us and the fear of illness or loss have lingered on our minds since March.  More often than not, we have found ourselves in these unprecedented times feeling lost or confused.  Many times, what’s brought us back to center has been taking a deep breath and reassuring ourselves that we will eventually be okay.

As if the pandemic weren’t enough, last Monday we witnessed the killing of George Floyd. His death, along with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was simply jogging, or Breonna Taylor, who was sleeping in her bed, are three of the many other Black lives lost that have literally shaken this nation to its core.

As a mother, aunt and mentor to Black and Brown youth, I share the fear of other parents about the safety and future of our children. And our kids are scared too. The truth is, we are all affected by the callous way in which George Floyd was killed. People of all ages, races, religions, and cultures – even elected officials and many police officers themselves – are meeting in the center to say, ‘we are better than this.’

While many of us feel stuck on how to address what COVID has magnified, we often feel numb or paralyzed. These feelings are normal and though I too am scared, I am also inspired. I am inspired by the potential we have to make changes in our district. We are called to improve public health, clean up the environment, create housing, reform our criminal justice system, support our local economy, and make new jobs.  The common thread of racial injustice weaves through all these concerns and is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must reimagine our systems and inject equity, dignity, and justice for all.

At a time when even breathing can feel like a gift – whether it’s because of the contagions in our air or the injustice our vulnerable communities face – I urge us all to take a deep breath, in memory of and in solidarity with those that are struggling to breathe. Then let us begin again to hold the tough conversations and make immediate policy changes that will uphold the true tenets of justice, equality, and prosperity for the future we can build together.

Damali Vidot,

At-Large Chelsea Councilor

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