Black lives matter. Systemic racism is real. Racial injustice is happening everywhere.
These statements are not up for debate. They are not “political” or “radical.” They simply speak truth about the state of race relations in this country. Saying these words is the first step in rectifying the way Black people have been treated in this country since the first enslaved people arrived on our shores in 1619.
Black people are 2.8 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers than white people. Black women are two to three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth. Black people with the same levels of education as their white peers make less money across the board in all education brackets, therefore perpetuating the income inequality between Black and white Americans that has always existed in this country. Minority communities are more likely to be victims of voter suppression, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 sits today essentially gutted of its power by the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision. And in the midst of this pandemic, communities of color—and Black communities specifically—have been hit the hardest with the deadly virus.
It is clear that, no matter which segments of society you look at, the toxic evils of racism have seeped into every crack and crevice of our country by those both ignorant to the extent of the problem and those motivated by hatred, seeking to perpetuate racism to maintain their power.
When this evil is so obviously entrenched in every facet of what makes this country what it is, it can be capable of instilling a fear that overwhelms and freezes those of us calling out this evil for what it is.
However, it is not going to magically disappear on its own. This country, from the very beginning, has failed on every account to treat Black people as if their lives matter. As inheritors of the American democracy, each and every one of us are personally responsible for using the power we hold to make measurable changes in the right direction.
In such a monumental election year, it is prudent to remember that no presidential campaign or candidate is going to fix this pervasive issue. Keep marching in the streets. Continue to organize and petition those in power. Keep up the fight. Holding your local, state and federal politicians’ feet to the fire is the only way to get things done in this democracy. They aren’t going to implement these changes on their own.
Let us remember the work of anti-racism is not easy. It is oftentimes exhausting and it is frustratingly slow. But it is always, always worthwhile, and it is everyone’s moral responsibility to take the work on.
Generations of people have fought to ensure that all people are treated equally in this country. That fight now rests on our shoulders. May we all have the courage to pull this country forward into a future where our Black friends, family and neighbors are treated with dignity, respect and equality in every avenue of their lives.