Tuesday, May 08, 2001

A call for change

Let's put an end to racism

        The grand jury has spoken. Now, the people — all of the people — must speak out. Bring peace and understanding to Cincinnati. Today. And tomorrow.

        This is my hometown. And I'm saddened by what's been going on here. Death. Riots. Threats. People unwilling to listen and ready to fight.

        As a high school kid, I lived through this during the '67 riots. Obviously, Cincinnati didn't learn its lesson.

        Still, I hope the city doesn't sit idly by after Monday's news. A Hamilton County grand jury delivered a two-count indictment of Cincinnati police Officer Stephen Roach, one month after he shot and killed Timothy Thomas, a fleeing, unarmed, 19-year-old man with several outstanding warrants.

        This is not a call for riots.

        Or rebellion.

        This is a call for change. A change for the better.

        Cincinnati needs to find the courage to put an end to racism of all colors. Do it for our children.

Generation's hallmark
               This is a tall order. But it can be done. It must be done.

        If not, the city is condemned to repeat the agony it has suffered the last month.

        I am sick of hearing bad things about my hometown on the nightly network news. There's no joy in seeing mobile TV units sprouting satellite dishes and out-of-state plates camped outside the courthouse.

        The news gatherers from CNN and NPR are welcome to report on good news from Cincinnati. And I could not think of anything better than for the people of this city to join forces and put an end to racism.

        Burying racism would be the defining achievement for the baby-boomer generation, the generation that was not going to repeat the mistakes of its parents and grandparents.

        Today's grown-ups could hand down the fruits of that achievement to their children. Future generations could grow up free from hate.

        What a powerful legacy.

Unoriginal, but useful
               Ending racism, preaching tolerance and fostering brotherhood do not fall under the heading of new ideas.

        But they sounded extremely viable Monday as I spoke with Christo Lassiter, University of Cincinnati law professor. I called him for a quick tutorial on how the grand jury process works.

        Toward the end of the session, he said, “As a black man, I just keep waiting for the time when we can all come together.”

        He talked of all races coming together to “bury the hatchet. Everyone can say, "I was done wrong.' Take that to our graves if need be.

        “But we must put that behind us. We must let our children enjoy life. No greater gift could come from our generation.”

        Our generation, the middle-age adults running things, has always lived in the very large shadow cast by our parents. They lived through the Great Depression. They won World War II.

        Our generation watched TV in the '60s as cities exploded, engulfed by hate and racism. We vowed that would not happen on our watch.

        The time has come to honor those vows. Join forces. End racism.

        Pass this on to our children. They will look back on us with pride. They'll be able to tell their children we won a war, too. We defeated racism.

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