OPINION — 2020 was a year for the books. Maybe the most impactful event over the arc of the next 100 years will be and should be the wake-up call we had through the race-related tragedies involving George Floyd and others.
It was sad because I think many of us had thought we had moved beyond this type of racial tension — that was something from a bygone era when my parents were growing up. It has given us a major chance to do some introspection on a personal and community level and identify ways in which we’re still discriminatory in what we do.
As a white male from an area of the country that is not particularly racially diverse, one of the most powerful messages that I have taken away is that it is not enough to simply not be racist. We ought to be anti-racist and look at our established institutions through new sets of eyes, especially in areas that we might not even think are that big a deal.
Case in point, I commute through LaVerkin everyday for work. Driving through on Martin Luther King Jr Day on Jan. 18 this year, I noticed that there were no flags up along the main road through town. Those flags are usually up on national holidays, and I’ve noticed them many times before and since, including a month later on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 15.
Now, this is no slander to LaVerkin or the good folks who put those flags up. But maybe MLK Day should have meant just a little more to us in 2021 than 2020. And maybe it’s just an example of an oversight that was pretty unfortunate. But how many other examples can we find like this in our community?
A lot of neighborhoods put up flags, an effort coordinated many times by local church groups. How many of those flag schedules miss on MLK Day and ought to be revised? Hopefully flags were up in other areas around St. George, but maybe they were missed elsewhere, too. And if our reasons are simply inattention, then we ought to do the examination and make fixes. And if our reasons are more than that, then shame on us.
It would truly be a shame if we miss out on what could be a defining moment for us, especially as we welcome more and more people to Southern Utah from all over. I hope others can come and feel welcome and not feel like we missed the memo on something so important.
Submitted by JIM LAUDIE, Washington City.
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