It’s disheartening that more than 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech, we are hardly any closer to realizing that world he spoke of, where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
When people are discriminated against because of things outside of their control – things like their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion – we drift farther away from the land of liberty we aspire to be. Unfortunately, the rise of Trump has caused the long-festering hate and bigotry that fuels such discrimination to boil over into violence. Like many of you, I was outraged to hear President Trump blame “both sides” for the horrific events in Charlottesville, which claimed the life of a peaceful protestor. Such hatred cannot and will not be tolerated.
But we also can’t pretend that everything was going great before President Trump started emboldening white supremacists. Over the past several years, we have seen a number of very disturbing incidents in which an unarmed African-American is killed by a police officer who is not sufficiently punished for their actions. The loss of life is unbearably tragic. The loss of justice makes it even worse. Such miscarriages of justice only inflame our racial tensions, creating an environment that further endangers our police officers, the vast majority of whom are among America’s bravest and best citizens.
At a time when minorities are being incarcerated at alarming rates, Joe Arpaio – a man who proudly rounded up Latinos and put them in prisons he referred to as “concentration camps” –received a full pardon from President Trump. Hate crimes against minorities and non-Christians have spiked all around the country, deportations have become a part of everyday life, and transgender troops have been banned from serving in the military. There is so much work to do.
We must take steps to combat these injustices.Criminal justice reform is urgently needed. We need to eliminate for-profit prisons and reduce mandatory minimums in order to address our mass incarceration crisis. We also have to address the institutional racism in education and job placement. We must fix our school system to provide more minorities with the same high-caliber education (including critical early childhood and after-school programs) that we provide to the rest of our kids.
The fight for justice did not beginthe day Trump took office, and it will not end next November. We have come a long way, but the fight for justice must continue. Until LGBTQ and transgender citizens have equal rights, until immigrants don’t have to live under constant fear of deportation, until police officers who kill unarmed civilians are punished severely regardless of the race of their victim ,the fight must continue.
Everyone is created equal. That should go without saying. But as long as people like Trump have megaphones, it won’t. The battle for justice goes on, and I intend to be on the front lines.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress