It’s been one year since the uprising began.
On the surface, it was due to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and especially George Floyd, where a fateful phone call caused a spark in Minneapolis that set America (and the world) on fire. But this wasn’t the first time people took to the streets after a Black man was killed by the police. Why was it different?
Perhaps, after countless stories of mothers losing daughters and fathers losing sons, people had grown tired of acting indifferent. That would explain why, after a long history of slavery, segregation, subjugation, and supremacists, many are now calling for big changes, from economic reparations to police reform, to dismantle the systems of power so that we can all find peace.
Of course, this goes beyond Black Lives Matter. The last year has also seen increasing violence against Asian Americans (not to mention girls, women, and transgendered people) while the pandemic has hurt Native American communities more than most. Indeed, COVID-19 also highlighted growing healthcare inequities and medical discrimination. Just like excess amputations from diabetes, the result has been excess deaths for people of colour.
The coronavirus pandemic has also left rich people wealthier than ever while immigrant communities are struggling to survive. This has made the racial gap even more apparent. And although some companies are better than others, there’s always been discrimination in the workplace (across industries as diverse as film, television, finance, photography, publishing, classics, and the law) that needs to change.
Ultimately, the debate should be less about racist communities and more about safe spaces for us all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, or any other arbitrary way we try to ignore the fact that we’re 99.9% the same. Fortunately, despite our complicated history, we can take action to change the culture and build something better, as James Baldwin writes in Go Tell It On the Mountain (also available on Audible):
“If we but wait, our change will come, and that in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed one day from this corruption into incorruptibility forever.”
Let’s do the work.
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