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  • Writer's pictureH. Rick Goff

We Can Do Hard!

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." (JFK Moon Speech at Rice University Sept 1962) These words apply to our current situation; we must “do hard” and have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations about race relations and racism! We can't let the violence by a few drown out the message of the protest that spun from the murder of George Floyd. While I don't condone violence in any shape or form, but unfortunately, history tells us that some form of violence appears to be a necessary evil for meaningful change to happen. The violence will pass but the protest will continue until hope is turned into action. We can't allow the attempts to change the narrative drown out the message, it's not about "kneeling during the anthem disrespects the flag/troops/America". (By the way, my family has over 150 yrs of military service and we're good with it!) Don't let your silence drown out the message, we can't miss an opportunity to really address the problem of race inequality, police brutality, and systemic racism this time. If nothing changes it can/will happen again and shame on all of us if it does.

The only way to address and solve a problem is to admit and recognize you have one! Police brutality and the heavy-handed use of force against the black community is real. Not all police officers are bad, but if good police officers stand by and watch bad cops exercise bad behavior, then they are complicit and part of the problem. Systemic racism in corporate America and other institutions is real. If the board rooms and senior leadership of companies and institutions continue to pay lip service to diversity and do nothing to change the status quo, then the members who accept this are complicit and are part of the problem. If the military senior leadership continues to lack diversity even though huge percentages of the active duty force is minority, then they are complicit and part of the problem. And lastly and close to home for me personally, if Christian churches continue to make 11AM on Sunday mornings the most segregated time and day of the week, then we are complicit and part of the problem! Houston, we have a problem!!

History is a good and cruel teacher at the same time. Good in that we can and should learn from past mistakes but cruel in that it reminds us of how ugly and unkind Black Americans have been treated in our country. The "good old days" that some want to return to were not so good for the Black community. Our normal has always been different! We all now have one of those rare opportunities to make positive change a reality. I have to be careful here, but the murder of George Floyd and the Pandemic have taken away all of the distractions i.e. sports, movies, concerts, vacations etc and forced us to look at ourselves hard for longer than one news cycle. It's disturbing and disheartening because we thought we had come so far, when in reality we have only taken two steps forward and three steps back, thus we have gone backward!

I've always heard a story about a janitor at NASA during Apollo who was asked what his job was, and he answered, "to put a man on the moon". We need that kind of focus from the top down to address and solve the problem of racism in our country. Everyone must lock in and decide this is not who we are and commit to do better. You cannot accept racism nor can you tolerate those who do! The experiment of democracy is hard, and we have to stay in the lab until we find the formula that makes it work for everyone. The rest of the world is watching us to see if we are a true beacon of light or a flame about to burn out. Failure is not an option!

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