by Denise Waldrep
candidate for SC House Representative, District 13
How many nights have you waited up for your children, not able to sleep until you know that they’re safely home? We hope that they won’t be in an accident. We hope that they won’t do something foolish that results in harm. Not only do families of color worry about this, but they also experience the fear of their children experiencing overly-aggressive treatment from law enforcement while being stopped for driving while black, running while black, or walking home from school while black. Occupation and wealth are no deterrent. U. S. Senator Tim Scott (SC), was pulled over seven times in one year by police. Senator Scott has urged his colleagues “not to deny the existence of the pain and anguish of problematic police/community relations.” No one has all the answers about how to fix our long standing racial divide. But we can begin by acknowledging the problem and standing with those who have experienced, and are experiencing, systemic racism. Now is the time for action. And sometimes the most appropriate action is to take no action other than to be still and listen.
I invite my opponent, Rep. John McCravy, to join me in listening and taking a stand against institutional racism. Let’s stay focused. While we must make sure that all acts of violence occurring during the protests are prosecuted, let’s not allow senseless acts of looting by opportunists to distract us from the listening process that includes having peaceful demonstrations of legitimate frustration and anger. We can do both! Some voices declare that we must make a choice between public safety and civil rights. That is a false choice. We need both. Reform that prevents abusive policing practices restores the confidence, trust and respect required for the officers to do their important work and vindicates the vast majority of police who do well their job of protecting us all.
Listening to one another is not and will not be easy. We will misspeak, we will experience anger and denial. But we must be patient with one another and grow together as we find our way to the other side. After all, we’re all like cracked pottery and jars of clay containing treasure within.
As a mother, grandmother and candidate for SC House District 13, I am here to listen to you and to learn from those who are already on the front line leading legislative and social reform. I commend SC Rep. Jerry Govan, chair of the SC Black Caucus, for outlining three top legislative priorities. As your next SC House Representative, I will work hard to make these measures a priority:
- Fully funding the body camera mandate that took effect in 2015 but has yet to receive adequate funding for agencies to carry out
- Reviewing use-of-force guidelines for all South Carolina law enforcement officers
- Because South Carolina is one of only four states in America without such a law, passing our long stalled hate-crime law to strengthen punishment for racially motivated crimes
Together we can take action and create meaningful change. Together we can paint a brighter world.