Please allow us to introduce ourselves. People for the Power of Love is an organization of community members working together to unify our community with authentic love. We affirm the dignity and worth of every human being, from birth to death, regardless of race, nationality or ethnic origin, religious tradition, gender, socioeconomic class, immigration status, sexual orientation, or any other identity, status, or condition.
Human beings are inescapably social, and the flourishing of each individual is possible only in a social context in which we each share responsibility for one another. Only together can we strive to realize the common good—that which enables any sort of community and its members to flourish individually and collectively. We are called to live in solidarity with all people, with our greatest concern for the most vulnerable, since the well-being of each person is a concern for us all. We are all, in one way or another, our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. Solidarity demands that we strive to overcome separation to see the deeper unity we share with all people. In light of past and present issues of inequality, we offer a definitive answer to a question that has been frequently asked of us at meetings dealing with issues of diversity and inclusivity:
Why are some Americans of African descent and other people of color, or POC, reluctant to participate in community affairs?
Our answer has three parts:
1. The broken relationships with deep historic roots between our POC communities and institutions and the white community more generally.
2. Fear of retaliation: Many POC fear that they will be singled out for harassment if they become active in issues of inclusion.
3. Mass incarceration, the ineffectiveness of rehabilitation, and the demonization of those who committed crimes in the past.
Many POC come from difficult backgrounds and some made poor choices in their past. Obstacles to re-enter the broader community are systemic. Once an individual has paid his or her debt, he or she must be welcomed back into the community if he or she is to thrive and grow to serve that community.
POC face greater stigmatization and thus face an even higher obstacle to re-entry. People who have made mistakes do not disappear. They are in our society and can become valuable contributors if offered the opportunity to reconcile with the community at large. We have a duty/responsibility to play a part to rehabilitate and be proactive in helping reform these people into productive, healthy citizens for their sake and for ours.
In order for us to move forward together, we must all work together. In the near future, PFPL will host a symposium on segregation and its resolution. Our hope is that through truth, we will build trust and move forward together as a community that will become a model for other communities.
We thank you for your attention and we look forward to seeing you at the symposium on Jan. 18, 2020. Start time is to be determined.
Christopher Norfleet, president of People for the Power of Love
Editor’s note: Christopher Norfleet is running for the office of mayor with the city of Wausau.
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