George Floyd should still be alive today. His family, friends, and the people of Minneapolis deserve justice. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery should be alive — and so many more.Elizabeth Responds to the Racist Violence that Kills Black Americans
The racist violence that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor is not new in America. We've seen sickening videos of Black Americans shot at point-blank range; killed during routine traffic stops; choked to death while gasping for air. And we know what's captured on video represents only a fraction of the violence that Black Americans experience, some of it while in police custody.
On Friday, Donald Trump referred to Black citizens in Minnesota protesting the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police as thugs and called for them to be shot, echoing the words of notorious racists of the past.
Trump is quoting old racists for a simple and ugly reason. This president is a racist, too, and any leader who refuses to swiftly and unequivocally condemn this outrageous statement shares responsibility for its consequences.
Trump threatens American lives and American democracy. We need to vote him and his enablers out. But people are hurting for reasons that go beyond Trump's statements. It's systemic racism and white supremacy that forces us to call for justice for George Floyd after he has been killed instead of providing it to him before the unthinkable happens.
As a nation and a society we have some soul searching to do. Racial disparities persist in wealth, education, employment, housing, education, and health care — and at a time when COVID-19 is disproportionately killing Black Americans and Black businesses are going under, it can feel as if this is the way things have been and always will be.
But we are not without hope. The deep injustices we face are not inevitable. They were created and facilitated through racist, hateful, bigoted public policies. That means they can be addressed by different policies — brave, inclusive, moral public policies.
We have to make real change in our country. And it must start in our criminal justice system. In the case of George Floyd, all of those responsible must be held accountable — and the Department of Justice must open a real investigation into unconstitutional policing patterns and practices in the Minneapolis Police Department.
But beyond this case, we must fundamentally reform how the law is enforced in America. We need accountability for law enforcement and accountability at every stage of our criminal justice system. And any decent person who brings integrity and compassion to their work in the criminal justice system should welcome that kind of accountability. In fact, they should demand it.
And we need to do much more to rethink our approach to public safety. That means transitioning away from a punitive system of locking people up and investing in community services that lift people up.
The idea that communities of color alone are responsible for fighting against racism every single day is misguided and can have dangerous consequences. I also want to be thoughtful about the responsibility that I and others have as white Americans in this moment. We need to ask ourselves what we are doing proactively every day to dismantle systemic racism in our communities, our workplaces, and our circles of influence. It's not enough to stand as an ally. We must go further and be anti-racist.
If you're in a place to donate, please consider donating to these organizations working to promote racial justice. This is a small first step, but every action we take adds up, and our response to this moment will shape our future.