EAST ORANGE, NJ - The tragic incidents of last week weigh heavily on my heart and my mind. Captured on video, shared on social media, replayed endlessly on our televisions, and splashed across the front pages of our newspapers, the disturbing images from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas have forced Americans to confront a raw set of emotions about racism, injustice and law enforcement.
I've had to revisit my own set of emotions and the harsh reality that I am living and raising my three children in a world where we may be judged by the color of our skin and not by the content of our character.
The recent avoidable acts of violence against Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were reactions borne by bias. Statistics show that unarmed black men account for about 40 percent of the people fatally shot by police. When adjusted by population, unarmed black men were seven times as likely as unarmed white men to die from police gunfire. New training techniques, more accountability through reformed laws, and better police hiring practices are just some of the solutions that can help fix a system that has been broken for far too long.
In East Orange, we are blessed to live in a community where our police officers stand apart from other urban communities for equally reflecting the people they serve. The brave men and women of the East Orange Police Department have worked tirelessly to drive down crime, enhance community police relations, and increase youth outreach. The result is a city that is safer than it has been in 50 years. As our own police - and law enforcement everywhere - continue to cope with the senseless attack against their fellow officers, I urge everyone to continue to show their support and respect for those who selflessly risk their lives daily to protect us from harm.
As we mourn, heal, analyze, and take action, we must unite on what makes us one. We all know someone who could have been Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, or Eric Garner. We must look inward and recognize our equal worth and dispose of the stigmas that surround not only people of color, but Americans from all walks of life. Collectively and individually, we must demand change. Let the action begin with you.