Hello, Northern Arizona. It’s early June as I sit and write this and already it feels like summer has gone on forever. We have moved from stay-at-home orders through an ongoing pandemic to a curfew issued after days of riots. On the same day George Floyd was killed, another young black man, Dion Johnson, was shot by police in Phoenix. People are understandably upset and frustrated with a system that doesn’t seem to be changing. Violence in response to violence is not going to bring transformation, but there are too many mothers who have buried their children, too many people of color gone before their time.
We have also seen the effects of years of colonialism and racism on the Navajo Nation and how this created the circumstances for COVID-19 to rage through those communities. A lack of running water and access to grocery stores exacerbated what was already a dangerous virus.
Around the state and around the country, communities are hurting. I have been trying to focus on our community, here on the Colorado Plateau, because it gives me hope. We are not perfect, we have our issues and the things we need to work on, but we try to work on them together. Recently, we’ve come together in protest and in prayer to support one another and lift each other up. We are a community that believes in a better future for everyone. We are a community that believes in dialogue, even when it’s painful; we are a community that believes every voice should be heard.
There is an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Here in Northern Arizona, we go together. We know that in order to make a more perfect community, we need everyone. We need every child to have equal access to education and a strong educational system that helps children become the citizens of tomorrow. We need families to have economic security. We want people to be able to work without fearing for their safety. We believe that if there is no more room at the table, we build a bigger table.
I am grateful we have not seen the violence that has become all too common in other communities. I am grateful that our police department is one that believes in partnering with the community to keep us all safe. Most of all, I am grateful for all of you. In what has been a very trying year, you have reacted with grace and neighborly love.
Thank you for being my community, for your support of our friends and neighbors. Hold tight to one another and may God bless you and your families. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.