A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Catrena Bowman-Thomas: Despite plentiful goodwill, an undercurrent of injustice — #ismysonnext?

As I look at our nation I stand in awe and dismay at the same time.

I’m in awe of how the community has come together to deal with the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. So many businesses, community organizations, local governments and private citizens have banded together to help fight COVID-19. People have given of their own personal resources to help those impacted in the community, we’ve seen millions of private dollars donated to make sure families that were marginalized have access to the essentials in life, including the ability to feed their families, keep their homes and provide educational supports to every child’s school.

Despite all this goodwill there is still an undercurrent of injustice in this country. Men and women of color are still being killed senselessly. Men begging for their lives in the street while officers watch without even blinking an eye.

Yet I do not see the community rallying to address these egregious actions and it leaves me with the question, why?

Catrena Bowman-Thomas is executive director of the NKY Community Action Commission.

When I hear of these incidents, I immediately see racism and unjustified acts of violence. When I saw the video of George Floyd on the ground with the officer’s knee on his neck, I cried because I imagined if that was my husband or sons.

It reminds me of the racism and oppression that millions of people of color have endured for decades. However, everyone doesn’t have this same vantage point. Many people believe that officers are justified in their actions and that they deserve our support until the incidents are fully investigated and all the facts are laid out for a jury to decide. But even when we have waited for justice to come from the criminal justice system, we have yet to be vindicated, we are still waiting for justice.

The impact of racism and racist acts is hard to verbalize. I equate it to having a broken bone, you can’t understand the pain of it if you have never experienced it. You can empathize with those that are impacted by it but there is no way to understand the pain that comes from someone prejudging you for something as superficial as the color of your skin.

Racism makes you question yourself, why do they see me so differently? Am I really less valuable like they portray me?

Everyday people of color are faced with the rude stares, the eye rolls, being left out and overlooked. It is frustrating and can be maddening. This behavior goes on for years and decades with all the raw emotion simmering below the surface. Then repeated acts of violence against people of color leads to outburst of violence and unrest. People feel unheard and hopeless, the outcome is unfortunately devastating for individuals and communities, as we are seeing in Minnesota. I do not condone the violence, but I do understand the triggers.

Back to my original question, why?

Why is the community not rallying to end this senseless violence? It won’t end until we all have the same response. When we can look at the person being attacked and see them as our brother, sister, father, mother, aunt or uncle. Until we see these incidents as crimes against US and not as a crime against them nothing is going to change.

#George Floyd #Amadou Diallo #Michael Brown #Kendra James
#Kendra James #Sean Bell #Breonna Taylor #Manuel Loggins Jr
#Sandra Bland #Ronald Madison #Eric Gardner #ismysonnext???

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