How We Can Work to End Systemic Injustice

It has been an incredibly challenging past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but an even greater tragedy took place this past week, seeming to take things over the edge with people around the country demanding justice for George Floyd, a man who was (I won’t mince words) unjustly murdered at the hands of police brutality and racism.

This is not an exhaustive list of individuals who were killed at the hands of police.
Image credit: NPR’s Code Switch: A Decade of Watching Black People Die

George Floyd was not the first Black person to be subject to extraordinary violence based solely on the color of his skin; Ahmaud Arbery was shot in broad daylight when he was out for a run, Breonna Taylor was shot in her own home while she was sleeping, just to name a couple other examples of innocuous activities that led to a fatal, unjust end. George Floyd and the individuals mentioned above will not be the last people who die at the hands of police violence and brutality if we do not collectively stand up against racism in all forms.

I listened to this morning’s episode of the NYT’s The Daily podcast and was moved to tears at this quote:

“As that older man tells that teenager that he can come up with a better way, his voice cracks as he says it. You see these hot tears start to well up in his eyes and his face grows flush and he stares into the boy’s eyes and I just know that at that moment he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.

Black people have protested peacefully and Black people have burned it down, and in the end the cycle of police violence, it all remains largely unchanged.

So that man knows the futility of what he’s arguing, but he alwso knows in spite of that futility, in that moment, he has to offer that child hope, because if he doesn’t offer that hope,why on earth would that 16 year old, standing there with all that pain etched in his face and heaving from his chest, not just go out there and try to burn it all down.”

The Daily by The New York Times podcast episode: “A Weekend of Pain and Protest”

I feel hopeless and angry at the people who are meant to serve and protect their communities, which includes ALL people of color such as the Black and Latinx communities. I am angry that the only thing that I have to complain about is the fact that I see police cars run lights, but never have to worry about going about my day and thinking it might be my last. I struggle to grasp how ingrained racism and oppression is in our country that people think they are superior than others based solely on the color of their skin.

My heart breaks for my fellow Black community members in NYC who have been wronged not just in the past week or years, but generations. My heart breaks when I see Black protesters going about protesting peacefully and getting pepper sprayed, forced down to the ground and beaten, shot with rubber bullets or worse, and misrepresented in some media as the ones causing mayhem in the streets. My heart breaks that the “leader” of our country has failed to call out racism time and time again, and continues to divide the country.

While I am feeling hopeless right now, I look to people who are sharing calls to action and solutions and hope you will find solace in taking part in any of these:

  • Former President Barack Obama writes in this Medium article the importance of voter turnout for local and state elections.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct.

Former President Barack Obama

If you’re curious why it was important for me to post this, please read this great article about intersectional environmentalism.