Key elements of our nation’s social contract – equality, justice, and even truth – have been stained almost beyond recognition.
It didn’t begin with George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor or Philando Castile or Freddie Gray or Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin or any of the men and women whose lives were taken, but whose names didn’t make the headlines.
It didn’t begin with the hate crime shooting of 46 people at an El Paso Walmart in the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern U.S. history, the forced internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, or the subjugation and continuing maltreatment of Native Americans .
It didn’t begin with someone calling the police on a birdwatcher who simply asked her to follow the rules and keep her dog on a leash, a situation that could all-too-easily have led to further tragedy as she feigned panic during the call.
And in many ways, it doesn’t matter when it began.
What matters now is that these and similar acts must end.
What matters now is that we all recognize that as shockingly tragic and despicable the direct killings are, just as scandalous and evil are the discriminatory policies and practices of institutional racism that indirectly kill people of color by limiting access to health care, housing, education, employment, and more.
What matters now is that we all acknowledge that grievous decisions of the past are no excuse for inaction today.
What matters now, today, is that we all proactively root out institutional racism that has created inequities that are leading Black Americans to die of COVID-19 at a rate 2.4 times higher than White Americans, Latinx and Asian Americans at a higher rate than White Americans, and Native Americans at the highest rate of all.
We need more than temporary healing. We cannot let this senseless cycle continue. We need change.
The choice is ours. We can slide back from the current pain and stay silent. We can apply short-term bandages until headlines fade. Or we can declare enough is enough, and proactively work to change the future.
Enough is enough. Let’s get to work.