Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to a person who refuses to listen. So when all else fails, you write a letter and hope that the receiving party will find it in their hearts to hear you out. If I could talk to our allies in the Uhuru solidarity movement, I would say these words…
I feel your pain and I know your struggles. The same African blood that runs through your veins runs through mines as well. We are family, brothers and sisters, yet here we are behaving as enemies.
I commend Mr. Nevel and Ms. Cainion for stepping up to run for public office. The burdens that we bear as public servants are great, but the issues we face as a city are even greater. The magnitude of this responsibility requires us to be open-minded and willing to listen, even when we disagree.
This is the beauty of our democracy. It’s what makes us the envy of nations worldwide. Other countries must wage war to fight for freedom of speech and protections against infringement on our civil liberties.
Here in America, the cost of that freedom has been paid by the brave men and women in uniform who laid down their lives for this country. Our freedom was purchased by the blood shed from our enslaved ancestors and those who laid down their lives as drum majors for justice during the civil rights era.
There’s nothing wrong with a peaceful protest. For generations, people in America have been able to peacefully assemble and advocate for what they believe in. The problem is when our peaceful protest begins the limit the dialogue that is needed in this election cycle. The problem becomes an issue when candidates’ messages are silenced by overly passionate supporters.
I get it—you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. We all share in your frustration with what’s happening in cities across this land. Big money developers are gentrifying our neighborhoods, displaying our families and nothing is being done to stop it. The cost of living is increasing, but our paychecks are still the same. The justice system has become unjust to a people, who have been systematically disenfranchised for centuries.
Generational poverty is a cycle that must be broken. We can’t expect politicians to know what poverty looks like or feels like if they’ve never experienced it. So we must have a seat at the table to share our personal stories. In order for us to make a difference in the game that’s being played down at City Hall, we must first be willing to hear our opponents out.
We agree on more than you may care to admit. Our approach is just a little different. We can learn from one another. Government works best when we are willing to have engaging conversations about the issues facing the residents and business owners within our communities. Active listening skills are an important trait for every leader to have.
I look forward to being able to have a real conversation about the lack of affordable housing in south St. Petersburg. I look forward to us working together, as a team, to mentor more of our youth who are in need of positive role models. I look forward to overcoming our differences and building bridges of opportunity for our entire village.
Corey Givens Jr.