Friday, August 5, 2016

[Guest Post] A Troy That Lincoln Can Be Proud Of - By Cameron DeHart, THS ‘09

Guest posts are welcome and encouraged. If you have something to say and are able to do it in a respectful, reasonable way, send your piece to The contents of guest posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 

The issue of law enforcement is deeply personal to me. My grandfather Greg is a retired 20+ year veteran of the Troy PD, and in the 1970s, he found himself in a terrible situation. On patrol he responded to an armed robbery at the old 7/11 on E. Staunton Rd. My grandfather was shot in the arm, but killed the robber with his shotgun. He was placed on leave and a prosecutor reviewed the case. The grand jury declined to press charges, but members of the community protested my grandfather. Called him a murderer.

I understand his anger when protesters call out police officers involved in fatal shooting cases. But something to note is that his case was different: his actions were clearly justified. Those protesters were wrong.

Given my personal connection to police, it may be surprising that I support Black Lives Matter. But I’m driven to do so because racism has touched me in profound ways. When I was 7 years old, my great grandma in Tipp City disowned my mother for marrying my stepdad, a black man. Chances are you’ve seen that man working downtown.

In Troy schools, I dealt with a million stares from children and parents, dumbstruck by a white boy calling a black man “Dad”. I’ve personally witnessed my biracial brothers being followed by Wal-Mart security as if they were poised to steal. I’ve scribbled out the N word on more bathroom stalls in this town than I can remember.

I marched with black worshippers on MLK Day 2007, when Neo-Nazis spit at me and called me a disgrace to my race. But I’m not a disgrace to my race. I’m a white ally. And I believe Troy, the community that so loved its Lincoln statue, can do a lot more to honor its Underground Railroad history.

It begins with recognizing the contributions of Black residents. As of now, only one of the many named landmarks in Troy (streets, parks, buildings, schools) is named for an African-American: Ferguson Drive. The City should take up an issue it left in 2011: renaming S. Elm Street for local civil rights leader Lucille Wheat. The issue is all the more urgent now: 3 black girls died of CO poisoning on that same street last year, and they never got justice.

And it begins with coming out to The Square this Sunday, Aug 7 from 2-4pm to say “Black Lives Matter”. Join us. Make Miami County Great Again.

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