Letter: Step outside of comfort zone

The murder of George Floyd in Minnesota and the resulting racial unrest gives Americans opportunity to reflect on how we can address these issues. Mr. Floyd’s death goes well beyond the relationship between the African American community and law enforcement. Mr. Floyd’s death didn’t just happen on May 25th, 2020. It happened a few months ago, a year ago, two years ago, 10 years ago. It will happen again next year, two years from now and 10 years from now in a city near us all.

We must start with bold visionary initiatives that bring together collaborating partners and leaders who step outside their comfort zone and beyond what has become the pretense of diversity and inclusion, beyond the narrow perception of how many see black Americans as poor, uneducated, lazy, people of drugs and crime.

How you see people frames your values and beliefs for that person, for that race. I have spent over a decade with the Community Enrichment Dinner, bringing in black astronauts, educators, journalists, business owners and others to show the optics. I helped launch a scholarship that added two blacks in the local police academy, recruited a black physician for Health Partners of Western Ohio, put blacks on boards of directors, and worked to give black entrepreneurs opportunities for college level courses.

If incidents like Mr. Floyd are going to be the catalyst for change, everyone must start developing meaningful relationships outside their comfort zone. Race and equity are determined by how we live with our co-workers, neighbors and friends. More importantly, truly inclusive communities know that the greatest power for change is to understand that each of us as residents make up the system that needs to be changed. Let Lima lead that change.

Jerome J. O’Neal, Lima


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