Ah — December — that wonderful month when the world softens — hearts fill with warmth and the world chills for a moment. I love watching my old films favorites – A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims and It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Now, how white is all of this?
This year I had a lovely surprise that brought a little more Joy to me. My brother called to wish me a happy birthday at the end of November. He and his wife were so excited that the county where they lived in Wyoming had just done something amazing! Amidst throwing out Liz Cheney, they had elected the first Black Sheriff ever! Visions of Eddie Engram our own Sonoma County first came to mind. I smiled — yes, times are a changing.
A few weeks later I received a card from my brother and inside was a clipping from the local newspaper, “Branding Iron” with the headline Wyoming Elects First Black Sheriff and a photo that brought another smile. Staring at me was a young burly black man with a broad engaging smile, full beard, and dreads. How wonderful that the citizens of the county chose him!
Statistics in the article tell the tale that, while blacks represent 13% of individuals in law enforcement, only 1.3% of sheriffs are black.
So my heart is a little more hopeful that maybe change is on the horizon. If the folks in Wyoming can take a leap of faith then maybe there is hope for us all!
Aaron Applehans, Sheriff of Albany County, Wyoming’s first black sheriff.