A Statement from OCDP Chair Vaughn Derderian

3 mins read

If you’re reading this, statistically speaking, you’re probably white. You’re very likely having a moment where you’re trying very hard to accept a couple of large truths all at the same time, and trying to figure out where you fit in. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you have maybe one of the best opportunities in the history of America to affect real, positive change. The bad news is that it’s going to mean coming squarely face to face with the legacy, power, and horrible pain that surround whiteness in this country. 

Those of us who live in the suburbs and exurbs have always thought about racism as a problem that exists “over there”, in urban communities, or in other states. That’s never really been accurate, but it’s an illusion we can’t afford to maintain anymore. Part of the legacy of the suburban communities most of us live in is that they were built on top of, and in support of, systematic racism. This isn’t the fault of any of us – a big part of the work that systematic racism does is removing individual decision making and individual accountability from the process, so all the little day to day decisions that get made to keep the system moving are never anyone’s “fault”. That’s one of the great things about this moment, though – for maybe the first time in our history, people are less concerned with who’s fault everything is right now, and more concerned with just fixing the problem. 

So, here’s what you can do today – if you’re a Democratic elected representative at the municipal level, *you* are the person you’ve been waiting for. Make yourself familiar with “8 Can’t Wait” (https://8cantwait.org/), a list of eight policies that can help reduce police violence by up to 72%. If you’re a Democratic voter, start thinking about the ways that systematic racism surrounds you, not just in policing, but in the housing, schooling, and funding priorities of your local government. None of us are going to dismantle white privilege and systematic racism overnight, but we need to start forcing ourselves to see it and recognize it, and to start taking the necessary steps to build a better system. Oakland County has a complicated past when it comes to prejudice and racism, but if we all commit to working on this together, we can change our story.

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The great people who make up the Oakland County Democratic Party are the champions of working families in every city and township throughout our county. Please join us with your activism, your membership, your votes, and your voice as we stand shoulder to shoulder with all of our State and Local Democratic Leaders, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Congresswoman Haley Stevens, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, and Congressman Andy Levin.

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