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Stacy Parker Le Melle Headshot

Eric Holder Is Change I Can Believe In

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I hear a storyline hardening around Eric Holder's nomination. Instead of being celebrated for the accomplished and outstanding public servant that he is, Holder is being portrayed as more of the same Clinton-era politics that Obama was supposed to leave behind.

I disagree that Holder's nomination is just "more of the same." Yes, Holder served in the Clinton Justice Department, but that does not mean his nomination is not totally welcomed and savored by many of his supporters.

Why? Because the top cop in America will be a black man. Not just a black man, of course, but a highly-respected attorney who inspires confidence and hope.

Imagine being a black person and beholding Eric Holder as the highest-ranking law enforcement official. Suddenly I will see someone who not only looks like me, but who can see me and people like me and see us as individuals, not as problems to be contained. We will have a top cop who sees us as more than the dreaded other.

This is not to say that other AGs were incapable of this, but there is nothing like seeing the machinery of the federal justice system headed by someone like you to make you feel that you have an ownership stake in this society.

It would be an insult to Mr. Holder to expect him to treat anyone differently because they share his race or his politics. I just expect him to be fair. And as we know, fairness has been in short supply for the past eight years.

Like many Americans of all colors, I have a healthy respect, if not outright fear of law enforcement. Not because I commit criminal acts, but because law enforcement officers exercise so much power in our lives if they choose to do so. If we find ourselves wrongly accused, so much damage can be done to our bodies and spirit before we get the chance to clear our names. And if we are rightly accused, the punishment so often does not fit the crime. I have many friends and acquaintances in law enforcement, but that doesn't keep me from remembering that if I upset the wrong cop, or the wrong prosecutor, my life can be made miserable. That one can't always expect fairness in the criminal justice system.

Of course, black men have lead police departments in this country, and have held the highest judgeships, and that hasn't magically repaired all that is flawed with our systems.
We have so much work to do, still. I am just happy that Eric Holder may get the chance to do so at the Justice Department. As I watched Arianna Huffington guest host *The Rachel Maddow Show* on Monday, I thought, this all feels like a dream. A beautiful dream.

With Holder's nomination, the dream just got better.