RICHMOND, Va. -- Last month, as I watched Charlotte burn and other fallout from yet more police shootings, I launched (if I could use such a grand term) the Act Right Movement on social media and in my weekly column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The response was fairly strong to this, my latest effort (I've been doing it most of my career) to try to get more people to focus on the bedrock issues facing Richmond and cities like it all across the country: concentrated poverty, the doubling of the illegitimacy rates, desperately struggling schools and vastly disproportionate crime and victim rates. While there's no doubt police shootings are a problem and a big issue, in reality they are a symptom of these bedrock issues. (You can start shouting at me now.)
The concept, stated in my T-D column below, is as old as recorded social history, based on the Golden Rule and the main tenets of almost every religion, but is now decidedly old-fashioned in a culture that largely has no moral absolutes and bad behavior is often excused and sometimes celebrated.
We demand better policing but not better behavior!
Whatever happened to: If you want to be treated right, it helps to act right?
But the real question is, do we want things to get better, or do we want someone kneeling on a football field or rioting in anger 50 years from now because things still have have not changed?
In the spirit of open and unflinching discussion, The Times-Dispatch (300 E. Franklin St.) is hosting a Public Square forum to discuss this issue, including crime and social justice, on October 27th from noon until 1:30.
I'll be part of the panel, along with activist and educator Osita Iroegbu, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham and Claire Gastanaga of the Virginia ACLU.