“This can be a moment of significant change.”
Those were US President Biden’s last words at his address yesterday about the guilty verdict in George Floyd’s murder trial.
I see the possibility, and I hope he proves this to be the case.
He certainly has put some important wheels in motion with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
I felt that he was genuine in his leaning into and naming the trauma of being Black and Brown in America. The fear and the exhaustion that comes with the daily lived experience and reality of systemic racism.
This is true not just in the USA, but in Canada and around the world.
On the coattails of hope, 2 things to note:
- We have to stop talking like George Floyd was the last Black person to die at the hands of police.
Yes, the video made the world pause, but many Black people and People of Colour have died at the hands of police since George Floyd was killed almost a year ago – two of in the last 9 days (that we know of)! Duarte Wright on April 11th during a traffic stop in Minnesota, and yesterday, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant – who called the police for help and was shot – in Ohio.
2. Policing is one part of the issue.
True, it’s a huge part, and an important part given the deadly consequences of systemic racism in policing.
But if we forget the impact of systemic racism on education, employment, health care, etc. If we forget the many other
ways systemic racism creates barriers, pain, trauma, fear, and inequity for people who are Black and People of Colour,
then we will miss another opportunity. Because the criminal justice system is part of a large system that needs an overhaul.
- The work is not over.
Yes, the US President said some important and necessary things yesterday. Things that all Americans need to hear – things that everyone needs to hear. And, we cannot sit back now and rest, because things are moving forward. Now is the time for meaningful action. And action must begin with raising your own awareness about racism, systemic racism, it’s history, how it manifests itself today and the impact. So you can act meaningfully.
Many of the impacts and layers of systemic racism are colliding in COVID cases.
We know that People of Colour are disproportionately affected by COVID – and when we tease out why, we see
systemic racism at the root.
- One last thing to note, specifically for Canadians:
In the post George-Floyd era, with our rising awareness, and a US President that calls out trauma and seems to recognize the work that needs to be done.
During a pandemic where COVID is disproportionately impacting communities of colour, and where we now seem to recognize that many of our front line workers are People of Colour.
We still have the premier of Ontario giving sweeping new permission to the police to stop and question anyone who is out during the lockdown.
Hmmm…as noted by many, how do you think that is going to play out for People of Colour and other vulnerable groups, given they will disproportionately be the ones out and about during the lockdown, because they are disproportionately front line workers?
See how deep systemic racism goes, how blind privilege can make us, and how easy it is for some not to connect the dots.
This can be a moment of significant change. Not just in the USA, but in Canada and around the world.
But we all have to wake up and do our part.
What are you going to do?