Calling racism a societal plague, Democratic state Senate candidate Melissa “Mel” Martin offered what she called her anti-racism platform as a recognition of Black History Month.

Martin, of Cocoa, is running against Republican state Sen. Dorothy Hukill in Senate District 14, covering southern Volusia and northern Brevard counties. A retired major in the U.S. Marine Corps, who served as  an equal opportunity program manager, staff judge advocate, and strategic advisor for complex command issues, Martin issued a statement late Sunday she entitled, “Ending Systematic Racism in Florida.”

Among her proposals, Martin said she wants to see Florida public schools expand history, social studies and human behavior lessons to delve into “why societies were dehumanized and ransacked,” and to see state and local authorities provided with more tools, outside of courtrooms, to swiftly address allegations of “systemic injustice and unlawful discrimination.”

“Black History Month should be much more than an annual obligatory reminder. It should also be a time when we reflect on all issues that still need to be addressed, resolving to do so. While nation- and statewide debate on reasonable gun policy rightly maintains our attention, professionals – statesmen must continue working on all matters of the state,” she wrote in an accompanying email.

In her statement, Martin called racism a product of ignorance and fear, and a societal plague, and said it must be addressed with and countered by “an effective system of education and justice throughout all public systems.”

Her proposals:

– “Public and publicly-funded school systems must do more than annual celebrations. History must delve into the ugly truth of why societies were dehumanized and ransacked, why wars were fought; the sad, horrific violence of America’s own heritage. Human behavior classes should explore and enlighten students, officials, and government employees on why we fear what is different, how unconscious bias creeps into reality, and how inherent privilege enforces injustice and inequality for so many. Such critical lessons shouldn’t be left to an optional course in college, it should be basic knowledge, what we expect in our high school graduates and government agents.

– “To avoid unnecessary, costly lawsuits against government entities, there must be effective measures available to process allegations of systemic injustice and unlawful discrimination based on the standard of zero tolerance and the principles of full transparency and swift accountability.

“A local, independent entity such as an Inspector General’s office should be processing complaints of racism (and other forms of bigotry) in government systems.

– “The State of Florida should have an online,  publicly available site to provide statistics and informational tools (such as educational videos for personnel training) so Floridians can see how our communities and public systems are treating this pervasive issue. It will take time and patience, but this basic framework of education and local justice, disinfecting Florida’s systems with full sunlight, is critical to  moving our society closer to where we should be.”

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