I was born and raised in Missouri and have lived here all my life. I love this state and all its citizens. Our "Southern" roots and culture make us some of the friendliest and most caring people anywhere. In times of trouble we pull together and help our neighbors. But the toxic effects of our historic support of slavery and deeply entrenched racism have done great harm throughout our history and continue to poison our communities. As much as I treasure the positive elements of our culture, I know that we can only move forward if we are willing to respond to racism as we would to any other toxin threatening our communities. We need to do everything possible to destroy the toxin and we need to provide healing and compensation, especially to those whose lives are most affected. These are troubled times — we need to pull together now.
In Missouri, we teach our children to play by the rules. We emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and accepting the consequences of our mistakes. We hold Missouri legislators to the same high standards we set for our children. When Rep. Warren Love said that vandals should be hung for defacing a Confederate statue, he made a mistake. At this point, it doesn't matter whether he meant to reference cowboy lingo or lynchings. As a history lover, Love should know that Missourians have committed the second highest number of lynchings outside the deep south. And he should understand the deep scars and suffering this form of racial terrorism has caused for African-American citizens of this state.
Love agreed to abide by the decisions of House Ethics Committee. Now he has failed keep his word and accept the consequences of his actions. Speaker of the House Todd Richardson has authority to impose the sanctions recommended by the Ethics Committee. As citizens, we need to tell Richardson to uphold Missouri values by holding Love accountable.