Hearts and Minds

How we need to move forward, together

Caleb Walsh illustration

Spokane NAACP president. Volunteer firefighter. Recovery coach.

As you can see, I serve our community in many different ways, in multiple arenas, on multiple fronts. There is a concrete reason for this.

As I have come through my own personal darkness and struggled for a life of purpose, depth and meaning, it became very evident to me that there was a lot of need. That if I was going to be true, I could not come from a place of trying to limit my participation in addressing the needs that are desperately crying out. I also came to understand that as I experienced the process of letting the "Needs Dictate the Actions," I was going to get worked hard in this experience. As a result, a perspective that had already changed was obviously going to have to be altered quite a bit more, even at the most fundamental point of my foundational identity — a personal paradigm shift, so to speak.

In this process, done in this fashion, I have found the personal value to be almost unmeasurable. But there has been a catch — that with every challenge, I had the obligation to consciously address whatever core beliefs I carried with me into a situation, and the opportunity to be willing to reevaluate them, to let go of them. I have heard that process described as "Addressing Implicit Bias." Which brings me to a point: As I now combine "Addressing Implicit Bias" with having the "Needs Dictate the Actions" and view our country and local community from a "Shifted Perspective," several things cry out in a need to be addressed and resolved.

There is a huge need within our Spokane judicial, social, educational and economic systems for some real, deep self-examination. Further, we need to develop a broad systemic willingness to let go of the perceptions and decisions which created a system that, in its past and current state, houses marked racial disparities, a profound lack of representation at the decision-making tables and jury pools, of the impacted communities, from the impacted peoples, for the impacted population. And there's a huge, unbalanced overrepresentation of persons of color, largely Native Americans and African Americans, in police contacts, sentencings, fines, incarcerations, juvenile sentencings and educational disciplines.

That these issues exist is no longer in dispute. That they have gone on for far too long is truth. That trying to use the same mindsets and values which created the problem to fix the problem is flawed at its core. That real change can and must take hold, and unwaveringly remain, is a fact.

Albert Einstein said: "You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew."

Abraham Lincoln said: "I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind."

We can, we will, we must move forward, together. ♦

As a child and young adult, Kurtis Robinson struggled with drugs and spent time in jail. Sober now for 13 years, Robinson is the Spokane NAACP president, a firefighter and a community activist pushing for social justice.

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