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The Power of Acknowledgment: Talking Race, Recognition and Reparations with Rep. Lawrence

By James Martinez

How do we as a society channel our outrage to make lasting change? 

I feel strongly that first step is to acknowledge that we have a problem. We cannot fix something if we are denying it, or we turn our head. I’ve always questioned major corporations who publish their annual report and their board of governors. It’s better now, but there was a time where almost every corporation had white men all in the same age bracket, but you’re serving and making your money off a diverse population. How is that possible that you don’t recognize talent anywhere unless they’re white, they’re male and they’re old?

What role can the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act play in moving this country forward?

It’s a training issue, we have seen repeatedly. This police maneuver of placing your knee or a choke hold. But here was a person who sat on the neck of a human being (George Floyd) who was crying for his life, with no weapons, who was handcuffed, and (the officer) took his life. And you have new officers looking at that. And if there was no accountability for that, then they’re going to start incorporating those same type of behavior for generations to come. And the thing that was so troubling is that the officer who committed the murder deliberately had a whole history of excessive force complaints.

How do we build a nation that addresses racial injustice?

Everyone gets nervous when you use the word reparations. HB 40 is the reparations bill to form a commission that will study the historic impact of racism on Black America. When you look at all the things that happened to Black America, this country has never apologized. And I’m not talking about ‘Jane’ down the street apologizing. I’m talking about this country at a government level, as they have in Germany with the Holocaust. Apologizing for it, and recognizing what they did was wrong. We passed some laws, but we have never got to that point of acknowledging that it has had an impact.

Black America is still having our first in so many things. I mean, everyone was crazy with excitement because of got our first black woman to be on a major ticket. When we look at the disparities, think about the families who have the opportunity and access to education. One of the major things that happened in Jim Crow was denying education, denying ownership of property. Think about the generational impact that has. If I was not allowed to own property, I had no property to pass down to my children. Then my children did not get the education to continue to build on that education.


James Martinez is a freelance writer and content creation consultant in Metro Detroit.