In light of the horrific murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, and the continuing protests demanding justice and a deep rethink of American policing and race relations in this country, I shared my thoughts about what each and every one of must do to. The following is an adapted transcript of my comments made prior to taping our latest podcast episode of Departures.
In the week that’s passed since the incredible and unfortunate events in Minneapolis, we have crossed something of a Rubicon in terms of race relations in the United States.
We are seeing something of an uprising, and it is very important that we understand that this isn’t just over one incredible act of vicious cruelty by one group of police in Minneapolis. This is about a level of exhaustion with dealing with often racist police who have made living in America a dangerous vocation for black people – particularly young black men.
This country has to change in as dramatic a way as we did in the 60s, and we have to deal with not only the racial inequalities, but the economic inequality that has been so heightened by COVID-19.
Donald Trump tweeting in his bunker is no answer to the systemic problems we face, and for that matter – to be quite frank – Joe Biden isn’t inspiring a tremendous amount of confidence, either.
In many ways, America is at a crossroads. The demographics favor a tremendous rethink of not only racial, but economic relations in this country. And as I said, this moment is triggered not only by that cruelty in Minneapolis, but by the results of a society where in fact the safety net is fraying to the point of non-existence, and nearly 25 percent of workers are now unemployed as a result of this virus.
We are heading into very difficult, very choppy waters, and I think this is a time for us to reflect and think very hard about not only our failing leadership but about what each of us can do to help ameliorate the situation of this grotesque economic inequality. And I’m not talking about charity, I’m talking about direct action. I’m talking about knowing that our neighbors in the inner cities often are starving and realizing that as this hot summer proceeds, without individual intervention by many of us, we are going to see a level of desperation on the streets of America that we haven’t witnessed in a generation.
These are very stark and dangerous times and it requires the participation of all of us. Not simply to bemoan the present, but to act aggressively and individually to help remediate it at this time.