The Healing Process of Kevin De León

Editorial: What happens after Councilman Kevin de León’s apology tour? For more than a month, the city’s most prominent African-American Councilman Kevin De León has tried to repair his image. His first public appearance…

The Healing Process of Kevin De León

Editorial: What happens after Councilman Kevin de León’s apology tour?

For more than a month, the city’s most prominent African-American Councilman Kevin De León has tried to repair his image. His first public appearance as a councilman was when he offered a full apology to the community for his part in the killing of James Byrd. Then he made a rare appearance in the media to address the racism that led to the killing, and he went on a tour of some of the black communities that saw Byrd’s car smashed into a tree and killed on June 17, 1979. The whole affair was played out as an African-American drama on national television and in the press.

While De León’s recent apology tour was meant to be a gesture of good-heartedness and healing, it still did not go far enough in addressing the underlying issues that led to this tragedy.

And I wonder if the people who paid to watch the circus, and the people who are now talking behind closed doors about De León’s racism are the ones truly invested in the healing process.

I would argue that is exactly what a successful healing process needs to involve. And it has to be done from the inside.

What happened in this case is that the community, the people who saw the death of James Byrd, the people who now talk in private about De León’s racism, did not feel that they could trust their Councilman or he them.

It wasn’t until I spoke to the family of James Byrd, and to the members of the community who were close to Byrd, that they could say that they believed that De León was ready to make an apology or be there for them in a healing process.

The Byrd family and many of the people involved in the community felt that they were not being listened to. And De León had not done the work to be a good Councilman in their eyes.

So I asked the Councilman to meet in New York with all of the people that were involved in the community and hear their concerns and offer whatever he could to help heal the community.

That meeting was the catalyst for the apology tour.

I think the apology was not sincere enough on De León’s part, and that the tour of New York City was not a true apology.

That is what I hear

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