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Opinion: When Some Of Us Can’t Breathe


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George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. Their deaths did not happen in Verona, but without action now from communities like Verona, the injustices that have been inflicted on black people in America for far too long will not end.

If some of us can’t breathe, none of us can breathe.

Most people have good in their hearts. Some don’t, and their racism, xenophobia and other baseless hatreds must be kept from harming people of color.

Black lives matter.

Most police officers do their jobs without brutality. Many police chiefs, like Verona’s Chris Kiernan, have spoken out to condemn the Minneapolis police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd. But those who are not on the right side of the law and basic human decency must be retrained, sanctioned or removed from their job.

Rage can spur us to action, but only reason will get us a sound solution.

Education, skills and resources are the basic building blocks of better lives. Too many black people and other people of color have been denied fair access to them and that must change. It makes no sense to stand in the way of common sense.

Saying a problem is hard is no excuse for not solving it now.

Voting makes it possible to solve problems and nothing must keep black people from freely exercising their right to vote.

Diversity is America’s strength.

Unity, not division, among the people of our diverse country must prevail, now and in the future. Only concerted action by all of us, every day, will end racism and injustice. Only unity will move this country to where it needs to be, where it must be, to respect the lives of black people. The unity shown at the June 2 march in Caldwell, attended by many people from Verona, was a start.

If some of us can’t breathe, none of us can breathe.

The Verona Public Library has a collection of digital books on racism for adults and children that can be checked out now. You can also access documentaries on racism from the library’s online video collection, Kanopy.

Photos copyright Victoria Piro. Used by permission.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


  1. Thank you for this article. The simplest way to understand why BLACK LIVES MATTER is such an imperative movement. People of color have been dehumanized by main stream culture forever. Unarmed people of color are disproportionately killed by law-enforcement officials all the time. People are afraid to leave their homes. If you struggle with the concept, please read below and try to understand that our privilege often blinds us to what is going on in the world. Our privilege is such that we don’t see things because they do not affect us. Please let this affect you because it is the only way we can come together as one human race and help one another.

  2. Thank you Virginia and Evertt Brown for the continuing voice of the press (at the threat of physical harm) for fighting to keep the news alive about racial and economic injustice on America.

    However, it must be noted, despite the bravery and courage of the protestors, it is “ill” advised to gather thousands, many without masks or social distancing. This can ultimately cause a spike of the virus in an already strained system trying to care for those with COVID-19. And unfortunately it is the very disenfranchised people that they are protesting for are dying in greater numbers due to the virus.

    Please pass the word.

    There are many other ways to protest racial injustice (petitions, donations, letter to the editor, etc.) Or perhaps safe distanced protests with masks mandatory like in Caldwell.

    Let’s act with peaceful power but cautiously to stop the spread while fighting for justice.

    Terry Moore

  3. I must disagree with Mr. Brown’s statement and direct him to Heather MacDonald’s piece in the Wall Street Journal,The Myth of Systemic Police Racism. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myth-of-systemic-police-racism-11591119883
    I also disagree with Ms. Moore’s assessment of the photos which I presume are of the Caldwell protest. It doesn’t appear from the photos that safe distancing was mandatory. If it was, people did not seem to observe it. Misrepresentations such as these do nothing to move the issue forward.

  4. Thank you, Virginia, for calling for our town to unify and stand up against racism and xenophobia.
    Ms. Connelly, Heather McDonald’s piece is full of all kinds of spurious and in some cases pointless, statistics that do nothing to disprove the fact that there is systemic racism within our police system. (Just as her many articles on how “over-fearful” of Corona virus we are does nothing to disprove that 100,000 + people have died from it). The number of people killed in drive by shootings does nothing to disprove systemic racism. The major. problem is that she tries to make conclusions based on the number of convictions, arrests etc, in our criminal justice system, which are themselves a product of a deeply flawed and racist system. Nor does systemic racism means there are no “good cops”. She either misunderstands or intentionally obscures the truth. Actually, the really major problem here is that she herself is a racist (and no, I do not throw that word around lightly) evidenced by recent articles she has written such as : “Corona Virus Racial Disparities Miss the Big Picture”,in which she writes such gems as : “Black New Yorkers may be 27.5 percent of known coronavirus deaths, but they were 62.6 percent of murder and non-negligent manslaughter victims in the city in 2018. “. In other words, we should not worry about blacks dying at higher rates from the virus, “…since black victims’ assailants are overwhelmingly other blacks.” To really understand what systemic racism is, take a look at some of the books at the end of the Ms. Citrano’s editorial.

  5. I don’t choose to go back and forth on this but Heather MacDonald is the Thomas W.Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and has studied criminal justice for decades. A lot of her “spurious”, “pointless” statistics came from the Washington Post database. I did not reference her research on the racial disparities of the coronavirus but it also is not “racist” as evidenced in her article, “No, the Coronavirus Isn’t Racist”. A fair reading of the article, rather than cherry picking lines and projecting a false conclusion, would be quite enlightening.

  6. The majority of Americans support the protests and an end to police brutality, but you’re certainly not going to find that article in Spectator. Just count the number of cities and entire states that have banned choke holds and teargas in just this last week. There is a hell of a lot more work to be done but Elizabeth, you and Heather MacDonald can sit this out. There are plenty of Americans stepping up to do this together.


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