Midwest living

Nebraskans have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice and discrimination. We should pay attention and seek to understand why.

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I identify as a Nebraskan, through and through. Although I was born in another state, I moved here at a very young age and I have called this place home for over 25 years.

In the fall of 2018, I noticed Nebraska gaining national attention in the Washington Post, Forbes, and many other news platforms for its new “Honestly, It’s Not For Everyone” slogan.

Catchy, right?

Accurate?

Some say no. I say yes.

In fact, upon first hearing the new catchphrase I found myself literally nodding in agreement. I am a person of color living in the Cornhusker State … and that within itself has given me a unique way to experience all that our home has to offer. For me and for many other people of color, these words had a very specific meaning.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s some recent proof.

Omaha Police investigate body found downtown, Omaha World-Herald (September 19, 2020)

 White Nebraska business owner charged with manslaughter in May shooting of James Scurlock, a Black protestor, USA Today (September 15, 2020)

 Nebraska inmate charged with hate crime, accused of attacking a Black prison guard, KETV Omaha (August 12, 2020)

Although we’ve earned the street credit for being “Nebraska Nice” – incidentally, the previous marketing slogan for our state – the fact is that communities of color in our state experience a very different reality. So much so that people have taken to the streets to call attention to violence against Black bodies, rights violations, discrimination, and many other infringements on basic human rights. We should pay attention and seek to understand why.

The Declaration of Independence, adopted in 1776, proudly states that “all men are created equal.”

It’s 2020. Many members of our community in this state and across the nation are calling you to action because equality does not yet exist.

Are you angry yet? I dare state you should be.

I love Nebraska. I have a deeply rooted passion for my community. Inequality and injustice happen here. It is unacceptable. I invite you to get angry with me. Better yet, I invite you to join me and others and do something about it. The future of our beloved state depends on it. The future of our democracy depends on it.

It starts with beginning to understand the true complexities of the systems that rule us, and how our diverse neighbors experience these systems.

Change is coming. Will you be on the right side of history?

Liz Codina supports local efforts to build thriving communities in the Omaha area. Previously, she worked for nonprofit agencies in program management and development roles. She is among the leaders of the South Omaha Business Association and is vice-president of the Metro Young Latino Professionals Association.

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