I would be lying if I said I understood how people of color in this country feel every day about being black or brown in America.

So while, like most white Americans, I personally don’t care if the person who was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck was black, brown, green or any color, religion or orientation, I completely understand the outrage being felt again by so many of us who witnessed what amounted to a public execution by Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin of George Floyd, whose only crime was, apparently, passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a store.

Yes, I believe all four cops (the others let him be killed) shown in a video thankfully released the day after Floyd was killed should go to jail for murder. But no, I don’t understand why Floyd was targeted by these cops to receive this particular abuse of their power, especially in light of something that happened to Jannah and me only a year ago.

When we got married in March of 2019, some of our attendees gave us gifts of cash, including a few people who each gave us a $100 bill as a gift. 

However, when we tried to pay a tab at a local bar with one of those $100 bills, we were informed that the bill was counterfeit. But, rather than have us arrested — at least in part because the bar owner knew us from previous visits and said it was obvious we didn’t know the bill was no good — all he did was ask us to use an alternate method of payment. I then took the bill to my bank, which told me that all they could do was take the bill out of circulation, which meant that we lost that $100 gift. Oh well.

One thing neither of us lost, however, was our life. No one handcuffed us or held us down to our pleas of “I can’t breathe.” Today, we can’t help but wonder if we were black and strangers to the bar owner, if we’d still be alive.

It’s horrifying to me that black, brown, Asian and LGBTQ people are targeted for this type of behavior so often. Something has to change. And yes, I understand why peaceful protests can and should be part of that solution.

Photo: WFLA.

Unfortunately, looting and setting fire to stores (photo) owned by people who literally had nothing to do with that situation should never be the target of those protests. But, they unfortunately too often are — as seen around the country once again in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder.

Yes, I am a firm believer that this country needs to change. I just think some people make change harder to accomplish by taking advantage of these situations in the name of “justice.”

These are very scary times, indeed.

Changes Abound

I realize that this is now the second Wesley Chapel issue in a row that doesn’t look or feel exactly like your usual Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News, but I know the content — especially managing editor John Cotey’s continuing coverage of local Covid-19 news — is still the same quality you’ve grown accustomed to reading. 

But, now that we were finally able to receive some funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and my long-time bank — SunTrust (now Truist) — we are able to continue to pay our staff, our office rent and our health insurance costs with the PPP funding while the local economy (hopefully) continues to recover. 

The fact that this issue is already four pages larger than the previous two Wesley Chapel issues is one indication that things are turning back around — we’re certainly happy to have almost all of our dentists back in the fold — and the number of new businesses calling and emailing us for advertising information is another.

And, I know that our next issue, thanks again to the Times, will at least be printed on a brighter white newsprint while I continue our search for a web printer who can either print on glossy stock or at least a much heavier white paper, so our look can once again be the higher standard that we have, up until now, been able to maintain since 2005. I am hopeful that it won’t take too long to get back to normal…not just for this publication, but for everyone.

Since the first New Tampa and Wesley Chapel issues in 15 years printed on newsprint came out in May, we have received overwhelming support from our readers and advertisers alike — with a few notable exceptions. We’ve even had a few folks tell us they actually prefer the newsprint, “because it feels more like a newspaper this way.”

Unfortunately for us, we have marketed ourselves as a glossy news magazine, not a newspaper, but I do appreciate that not everyone is hating this new look, which may have to stick around for a while. I have promised our advertisers (including the few that pulled out since our first newsprint issues hit in each market) that as soon as we are able to return to glossy (or at least, a much heavier white paper) stock, I will let each of them know.      

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