Letter: Let Me Breathe

When you look at black people, what do you see?  Do you see a reason to clench your purse in fear or lock your car doors?  Do you presume to get in front of them at the check-out line or call the authorities to “put them in their place”?  Do you relish black culture but revile black people?

For me, the murder of George Floyd has brought Fairfield County’s race relations into stark relief. I am Fairfield County, born and raised, and as a black woman who lived through its darkest days—buying hot dogs from the back door of establishments on Congress Street, tolerating separate bus stations, and having a tooth pulled with no Novocain because doctors didn’t believe that black people felt pain—I can safely say that we, as a community, are at a crossroads.

We can make the choice to do better with race relations here or we can breed the same beliefs that led to the dehumanization of George Floyd, the denial of his cries, “I can’t breathe,” and his death. For a state where 78% of those who claim a religious affiliation practice Christianity, I am horrified that I even need to justify Mr. Floyd’s humanity. Do unto others. Thou shalt not kill. Scripture is replete with examples of how we should treat one another. Strife between Samaritans and Jews did not keep the former from doing the right thing when the latter was beaten and left for dead.

Within Fairfield County, the County Council lacks transparency; community members are denied the opportunity to speak about anything except what is on the agenda; citizens are not always involved in the planning process—they are only presented with decisions made behind closed doors. Hoarding resources and information breeds distrust, anger and frustration. The African American community of Fairfield County deserves an improved quality of life.

I returned to Fairfield County 20 years ago. Since then, I have extended my servant’s heart. I have worked with elected officials, corporations, private citizens, healthcare organizations, and social service agencies to make life better for all Fairfield County citizens. During that time, I have cherished friends of many different races and ethnic backgrounds.

I am not proposing a conversation about race. I am all talked out. I am proposing action that guarantees access to funding resources for all citizens. Fairfield County can move forward together without marginalizing citizens based on their party affiliation or race. We cannot let hate win. I believe we will be better together, but those in power must take the first step. Don’t let hate and discrimination win!


Shirley M Greene


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