By Lester A. Wilkerson, Jr., Accountant, United Way of the National Capital Area and resident of Prince George’s County
I was born and raised in Prince George’s County, a county that has been notorious for unnecessary forceful police behavior. As a Black young adult in the late 80s, I experienced police brutality firsthand and the recent events with Floyd and so many before and after him have reminded me that not only have things not changed for the better, but they have become progressively worse. Now, as a father to a young man, I often have to remind him that the slightest thing that he does can impact and probably could cost him his life as it relates to dealing with local law enforcement in the very county in which I grew up.
I’m encouraged to see that people are finally standing up and saying, “enough is enough.” This time it’s not just my people, it’s amongst all races. I want to believe that this time, because we are united as one human race, that things will change for the better. But as time passes, the bold voices we heard weeks ago, are starting to quiet. My hope is that our voices don’t go silent.
I currently work for United Way of the National Capital Area and I’m grateful for the compassion our organization has for human life. I believe this is why I hold so much weight in our “unity” to fight systemic racism and police brutality. I’ve seen the work that our organization has done as a whole, in collaboration with partners and individuals in the community, and we’ve seen so much progress. It’s clear to me that “united” is how we can make an impact. For those of us who are looking to help, to make change, let’s continue this work together. In order to invoke change we must all educate ourselves on how this impacts us all as Americans. Let’s continue to learn the history of each other’s culture and aide in the important social benefits for all. Speak-up! For most speaking up can be a challenge and an uncomfortable situation. The fear of repercussion as to what others may think blocks the inability for us as humans to take action and do what’s right. We must not remain silent. Continuing to remain silent contributes to the oppression, depression and suppression of the American Race. Finally, demand change! Change starts within each of us. We need to remember that the work we need to do is ongoing. We have to hold each other accountable and responsible for actions.
This piece is part of a collection of stories told by Black male colleagues at United Way NCA. To hear more, click https://unitedwaynca.org/podcast
Originally posted on the Patch.