Letter to the editor: Your community needs you

Racial justice demonstrators march in Iowa City, May 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

By Mohamed Traore, Iowa City

You have a rare opportunity to offer your eyes, ears, heart and mind to affect actual change. Do not let it slip away.

Too often are we told “your opinion matters” from those in positions of power, only to look back and see that we were given a false promise. This is not a false promise: the City of Iowa City Ad Hoc Truth and Reconciliation Commission values your opinion.

There can be no true “reconciliation” without you, as fact-finding and truth-telling precede this part of the equation. Your voice is a crucial ingredient. The conversations will not be easy, but I genuinely feel that they are worth it. I hope you can see it the same way.

After this commission, a set of recommendations for policy changes is to be submitted to the City of Iowa City City Council. Again, this time, your thoughts genuinely do count. This time, your experiences truly matter. If it is not yet clear, your worldview is a key piece to the puzzle. We all have gaps in our knowledge, as each of us sees the world differently. The more individuals who join this common effort, the more holes filled, the more holistic that worldview becomes. This time, you can indeed affect change.

I’m not here to beg or plead. I’m writing to you to kindly ask that you look within yourself and ponder a simple question: “How can I help?” I believe the way we truly move forward is by remembering this essential piece of information: “Of the People, By the People, FOR the People.” Without you, your community may indeed remain fragmented without a common direction that leads us all to a better tomorrow.

I do not care who you voted for in the last election or any election before that. I will not hold that against you. I will not judge you based solely on your age, level of education, skin color, gender, sexuality, past transgressions, the zeros or commas included in your net worth or your place of birth.

Once again, what matters is that you give your genuine effort and participate. You, too, are part of this community. Whether you have been made to feel that way or not, this is your chance to change that.

Some individuals may decide not to engage and then criticize. To those in that group, I can say this: “you have wasted your opportunity.” As a wise man once said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”

Your community needs you. I hope you look within yourself and realize the time to answer the call is now.

Contact or visit our page on the City of Iowa City’s website for more.

This letter was written by Mohamed Traore and was not submitted on behalf of the entire TRC