Interview: State Sen. Scott Bennett on Race, Police And Cannabis
While regular host Brian Mackey takes time for vacation, Lamont Holden is filling in as guest host. Holden is a music instructor at the Unviersity of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He is also a podcast host, videographer and sound designer. In August 2020, Holden wrote a News Gazette article on being Black in America. After reading it, State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) reached out to have a conversation. Both of them joined The 21st to discuss cannabis policy, gun violence and improving community relations with law enforcement.
State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)
The following is Lamont's article:
'I’m afraid to die. I think about it every day. I consider my own mortality daily.'
I am having trouble existing in the world. I am traumatized and exhausted. I’m glad I had to teach this week because it gave me an escape.
It’s hard to be Black every day. It’s hard. I’m tired.
I have to admit that my life has prepared me for the everyday, run-of-the-mill oppression that I’m tasked to fight and work in advocacy against on behalf of others but this is different.
I’m afraid to die. I think about it every day. I consider my own mortality daily.
I’m too young for that. I don’t have a terminal illness. It’s a paranoia and a fear and weight that is inescapable and very real.
I know my Black peers feel that way. I wonder how that affects their jobs and their lives and raising their children, amid a pandemic.
What I’m talking about is a virtual free fire zone that surrounds Black people trying to just live every day. I have to guard my heart against hate. I have to try and be the same person with the same morals and belief in equity. I have to carry a disposition of non-judgment while I have a growing fear of White people I don’t know.
I have a burgeoning hatred in my heart for police officers. I don’t carry something such as hate lightly because a.) that is not the person I desire to be nor is it the person I was raised to be and b.) to be black and to be hated is to have empathy for what it’s like to be hated.
I’m a leader of my community. People look to me for insight. What am I supposed to do?
By the grace of the creator, I have so much to live for.
Despite the worst thoughts that cross my mind, I’m still in search of constructive solutions. What do I tell the 19-year-old Black kid that knows this country has nothing for him and he’s ready to do the unthinkable?
I just want to be OK and I want to make sure other people are OK. We still have to try to be our best selves in this climate. I think that’s what I’m speaking to.
Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi
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