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Change starts here, now

Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

For years, I have asked a simple question: When do I get to be American?

We have all seen the forms with the little boxes to check asking which ethnicity, what country, what nationality.

I want to check American.

I recall a young actress during an interview state she was American when asked with which race does she identify with and she said American. The interviewer attempted to correct her and asked, “Don’t you mean African American?”

“No, I have never been to Africa so how can I be African? I was born in America, so I am American.”

I recall telling my children at the time, “THIS is exactly how we all should think!”

Since then, I have been waiting for the check box to let us know we have moved forward, past the color of our skin and see each other as humans.

But the issue is more than just the color of our skin, it is also the hatred inflicted upon people of gender, race, sexuality, career…

Yes, it is also directed towards careers.

We saw it when everyone was turned against the media and local community media was clumped in with mainstream national media. All despised for a career choice.

We have watched as hatred grows towards the law enforcement agencies. Now there are those demanding the defunding of police departments. One must wonder if the wording is accurate but is does show how much the hatred for an ‘individual’ can grow.

It is much like stating you will not attend church due to the hypocrisy or that all religion is terroristic based or radicals.

It is simply not true.

None of us are perfect. We all have faults and there is no way we can make everyone happy all the time without making ourselves miserable.

Over the years, we have learned that females are smarter than they gave us credit for even 50 years ago.

A person is not a bad person just because their skin is different from one’s own. A person is not less than human just because they choose to serve and protect.

The labels have got to stop. As long as we insist on labels, we will continue to see racism and hatred spread. We must move forward and change the way we think so we can help others change.

We are taught as children to treat others the way we want to be treated. If we want to be treated with respect despite the color of our skin, our gender, our job, our religion, our creed, then we must treat others as such.

What happened to George Floyd was horrific. No one should have to be subjected to such treatment. Both sides of his story have been reported both in mainstream media and on social media. When one removes all the labels from the story, a man was severely mistreated to the point he lost his life at the hands of another man/men. Criminal or not, no human being deserves to be treated as such by the hands of another human being.

There is no need to attempt to change the story by adding labels.

Over the weekend, a protest was held in Vidor and received national news but the reason it received such attention is because mainstream media refuses to let go of old ways of thinking. The peaceful protest shows that people DO change and just how hard it is to lose a label once someone puts it on a group.

The city of Vidor has moved forward and continues to push forward, why can’t the rest of us?

Blaming it on a monument, in Orange, built by an individual for a non-profit organization is not an answer, it is an excuse.

There is just no excuse to continue with the labeling and judging others on those labels.

So be a part of the solution and stop judging a group by the reactions of a few bad people.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” The Declaration of Independence.

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com