The late, great Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

My fellow citizens, lately we have been reminded that we ARE living in challenging and controversial times. The events transgressed against African-Americans in recent months takes me back to the 1950s and 60s and “Jim Crow” America. Our excuse back then was ignorance and prejudice. We have no excuse in 2020.

Before I continue, it’s expedient that I clarify that I trust and respect our police force in Ada, because they are indeed here to serve and protect. Unfortunately, there exists some officers that place shame on the name, Policeman. Unequivocally, psychological testing and training procedures are failing us. Officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis was a, get this, training officer and the subject of 16 misconduct complaints. Hello, is anyone listening out there? Denial is not a river in Egypt.

There’s much anger in America now, and a racially divided nation is not a strong one. As a society and people we have to raise the bar and take ownership of defeating racism. Everyone. And, I’m not just talking about White America either. There exists white, black and brown racists, and I would be remiss if I didn’t include Native-Americans. Incidentally, I am Choctaw, and our people didn’t cheer when the U.S. Calvary was on the way in 1831.

So, as a people, where do we begin? As a former educator of 42 years, I believe it will take more education within the home at an early age. Can schools make a difference? Of course, but let’s not place another burden on schools. I’d like to see more African-American and Native-American studies offered within curriculums. None of these were available when I was young. Also, an emphasis on diversity in elementary schools.

Unequivocally, as a nation and world leader, we must do a better job of learning and respecting diversity in an ever changing America and understanding that people and cultures can be different yet still acceptable.

What I’m trying to convey is in order for full growth to occur, we must go the extra mile and abandon the mentality of: “I like you just the way I am.”

It’s conjectured that an old proverbial saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” came from the Sioux Chief, Crazy Horse, who, as an infant was said to have nursed from every woman in his village. There is no undeniable truth of that, so let’s not let truth get in the way of a good analogy. However, I do believe it to be a powerful story with far reaching implications. We need to be that Village.

As Americans, we’re blessed with more rights and freedoms than any country, and we often embellish those rights to a fault. With all those privileges comes the obligation to do what’s right, and it can’t be with words only. We must live it daily.

“What you DO speaks so loudly that I can barely hear what you say.”

The cancer, racism, demands a grassroots approach, meaning that it begins at ground zero and starts with you and me. If this can come to fruition, then, hopefully in my lifetime I will live to see it. Please hurry, I’m in the fourth quarter of my life.

I want to close with a very relevant quote that I’ve used as a coach, because we’re all in this together to make a difference -

“Look at the stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before,” — Jacob Riis.

Thank You,

Alan Simpson; Byng; Retired

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