The nationwide collective expression of grief and frustration over the senseless killing of George Floyd by four police officers in broad daylight in Minneapolis on May 25 is overwhelming. I’m at a loss for words to convey the sadness and anger I feel about the murder of Mr. Floyd, as well as Ahmaud Arbery on February 23. Undoubtedly countless more incidents of racial violence and mistreatment occur throughout the nation daily, and those stories go untold. We know about the Floyd and Arbery tragedies thanks to video footage spreading worldwide on social media. Gil Scott-Heron was wrong, the revolution will be televised after all.
These tragedies are compounded by the stress of COVID-19, and the disproportionate rate of contagion and inequitable financial impact it has exacted upon people of color in the U.S.
Don’t think racial inequality and injustice is someone else’s problem. This is everyone’s problem. Inequitable access to quality K-12 education impacts access to higher education and training. Inequitable access to higher education and training impacts income and holds generations of families in poverty. Poverty contributes to crime; crime attracts law enforcement and provides the opportunity for those officers with racist hearts to perpetrate unwarranted violence on people of color.
According to the Sentencing Project, “…White Americans overestimate the proportion of crime committed by Blacks and Latinos, overlook the fact that communities of color are disproportionately victims of crime, and discount the prevalence of bias in the criminal justice system.” According to the Marshall Project, “When it comes to drug and property crimes, Black people are serving increasingly more time, growing at a rate of 1 percent or more on average every year, as the time served in prison by White offenders dropped.”
We must commit to comprehensive reform of our nation’s justice system, develop procedures for removing racially biased police officers from service and demand accountability from law enforcement agencies. We must diversify state and local governments to include policy makers informed by viewpoints of minorities as much as majority viewpoints.
These killings should serve as a call to action for every one of us to do everything we can to address bigotry in a deliberate and systemic way. Exercise your right to vote and vote for the change you demand to see. Please do what you can to genuinely express extra care and compassion for everyone within our community and remember Community Reach Center is here for you.