People have been asking me how I’m doing and it seems like a strange question. I’m OK. I’m breathing. My family is healthy.
Yet at the same time, our entire ACE community is grieving George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many others who have been oppressed and killed by racism and racist systems. We stand with our youth, our elders and everyone in between who is rising up to demand justice.
So, while I am grateful for the attention that’s being paid to racism right now, I’m also frustrated. TV talking-heads, politicians and business executives are paying attention to racism this week, which is a good thing. But will it last? Will they still care in a week, a month, a year?
And racism isn’t just a White policeman kneeling on a Black man’s neck. Racism is Black and Brown people breathing polluted air.
Racism in America is a pervasive problem, a chronic illness. What we’re seeing this week — horrific recordings of police violence against Black folks, and the loud, angry response across the country — that’s a bad flare-up. But treating the flare-up alone won’t treat the underlying disease.
And racism isn’t just a White policeman kneeling on a Black man’s neck. Racism is Black and Brown people breathing polluted air. It’s Black folks in Boston spending 64 more hours stuck on the bus than White folks.¹ It’s decades of housing policy that leave the average Black family in Boston with $8 in wealth while the average White family has $247,500.²
So let’s keep fighting the flare-up. Yes, let’s make sure we can use the energy of this moment to fight police violence against our communities. But let’s also use some of this momentum for the long term fight against the root cause — the chronic disease of racism.
For our community rooted in Nubian Square, that means fighting for transit justice. It means environmental justice, reduced pollution and cleaner water and more access to the good of the outdoors. It means housing justice and ending displacement. It means better employment opportunities, better training, justice in our education system.
Racism is a chronic illness. Maybe America only pays attention to it during a big flare-up. But to actually recover, to actually heal, you need to identify the causes of the disease and the hurt it causes every day, even when it’s not top-of-mind. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.
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Here are some other resources you can share with folks who might want to take action against racism:
– Week of Action In Defense of Black Lives (Movement for Black Lives)
– Filling our Cups: 4 Ways People of Color can Foster Mental Health and Practice Restorative Healing
– Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice
1. “64 Hours: Closing the Bus Equity Gap“, Report from Livable Streets Alliance, September 2019
2. “That was no typo: The median net worth of black Bostonians really is $8″, The Boston Globe, December 11, 2017.