VOICES: Will we cherry pick 2020 or engage in an honest and critical examination of history?

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: Police reform work continues in Dayton eight months after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked peaceful protests and some riots nationwide. Dayton resident Jared Grandy shares his thoughts in this guest column. A piece by Cornell Trammell is linked below.

As the time elapses, it is easier to cherry pick facts of the past to create stories easier to stomach.

We will certainly cherry pick to recall 2020 as a year defined by perseverance and human tenacity.

We will tell ourselves, we did what we had to do to survive and we celebrate ourselves for surviving. We will celebrate the fact that we hit the streets in massive numbers to protest the kind of state violence that resulted in the horrendous murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.

We will tell ourselves that we overcame bigotry and hate by electing Joe Biden and more significantly, his Black female running mate Kamala Harris.

We will pat ourselves on the back for merely living through the deadliest pandemic of a century. The eventual defeat of COVID-19 will go down as an incredible feat of human ingenuity.

We should be very careful about the story we tell ourselves when celebrating our victories. We must not overlook the cost of such victories. Some of our victories were inflicted in such a devastating way that it is tantamount to defeat.

For all our protesting, how many police departments fundamentally changed the way they engage with Black and Brown citizens?

A little under a month before the year ended, people protested after Casey Goodson, an unarmed Black man was allegedly shot in the back by a sheriff’s deputy in Columbus.

Weeks later another unarmed Black man, Andre Hill, was shot by a police officer in Columbus.

Donald Trump received more than 74 million votes despite his hatred, bigotry, rage and lack of basic human decency.

More than 400,000 Americans have tragically died from the coronavirus. Add to that, 2020 was the deadliest year for gun violence in a decade as people struggled with depression and economic loss.

In his Jan. 2 guest column on this page, Dayton business owner Jason Harrison, suggested that Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley failed to take responsibility for actions the city ― my then employer― took against me after I spoke out against apparent racism within the city’s police department.

As Harrison pointed out, when discussing history, we often fail to acknowledge our role in it.

We will tell ourselves that we defeated hate and bigotry by electing Biden and Harris, but will we ask ourselves if we do enough to speak against at the dinner table?

We protested state violence, but have we held our local officials accountable for their budgets and policies? Certainly the storm that is the coronavirus will pass, but were we responsible neighbors?

Did we stay home, wear masks and socially distance even when it was most inconvenient?

Will we take responsibility for the tens of thousands of lives lost to gun violence? Will we blindly believe the comforting narratives we tell ourselves about the past, or will we engage in a honest and critical examination of our own contribution to history?

True progress can only be made by doing the ladder.

Jared Grandy is Dayton’s former community-police coordinator. He resigned from his job May 30.

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