Editorial: It’s a difficult conversation, but one we must have

The City of Langley took an important step Monday.

The council entered into an uncomfortable discussion about systemic racism, and what can be done to address the problem locally. It’s a conversation that Oak Harbor’s and Coupeville’s city councils should take as well, riding on the groundswell of change that needs to happen.

It’s abundantly clear that the nation is ready to face the issue of racism. It’s incumbent on local jurisdictions to seize on the opportunity to listen, learn and change.

After decades of self-denial, witnessing the killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has forced people in this country, and around the world, to say “enough.”

For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the officer knelt on Floyd’s throat.

Before he died, Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. And then he called for his mother. It’s a death no human should suffer, but representative of what blacks in America have gone through since times of slavery.

Anyone who has ever made a racially charged comment or joke, or worse, turned a blind eye to the brutality and discrimination that people of color have endured, must face the fact that they have been complicit.

Complicity, however, doesn’t mean an inability to change, grow, empathize and show remorse.

We have lost at least two subscribers who were angered by an editorial cartoon on the Opinion page that showed the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, next to it an image of NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustices against black Americans.

The fact that the timely message being imparted by the cartoon so infuriated those readers as opposed to the cruel and sickening killing of a human being was mind-numbing.

Online, some who commented on our coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in Oak Harbor said that what happened in Minneapolis is irrelevant to residents of Whidbey Island.

So, yes, there is work to be done at a local level to address systemic racism.

So, Langley, lead the way. Coupeville and Oak Harbor, follow suit.