Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? "...A nation that is healthy and equitable for all" June 1, 2020

In this week’s COVID-19 and Race Commentary, the fight for transformative justice, Black liberation, and a nation that is healthy and equitable for all.

Issue No 8. June 1, 2020

We Hurt. We Mourn. We Fight For Transformative Justice.

By Michael McAfee

We hurt because this nation chooses to not value Black Lives. We mourn because George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, and too many others are victims of state-sanctioned murder. Too many of our revered leaders and their institutions have routinized the ceremony of mourning Black death in America. Their platitudes fall flat. There will be no peace or justice until our nation atones for founding a country on stolen land and human bondage — a nation that still steals from and binds millions of people in America to a government and economy that oppresses them.

Since policing will always threaten our most fundamental right — the right to live — it must be abolished.

To silence justifiable outrage, too many people selectively quote Dr. King’s messages of non-violence without comprehending the meaning behind quotes like “riots are the language of the unheard.” It’s time that we listen to those who are most burdened by structural racism and have the courage to do what must be done — abolish White supremacy, dismantle its institutions and systems, and build new, liberating institutions and systems. It is time to remove the knee of this nation’s oppressive laws, regulations, institutional practices, and cultural representations off of the necks of Black people. There can be no compromise. Even as we hurt and mourn, we fight for transformative justice from a nation that must come to grips with the fact that its fate is inextricably bound with Black America. It is time for a national effort to remake this nation into one that is equitable for all.

If there is a silver lining to this moment, it is a growing acknowledgment that traditional police reform — like training and body cameras — does not increase community safety and directs too many resources to bloated law enforcement budgets. Across the country, more people are demanding that these valuable public funds be invested in community infrastructure, services, and programs that address the root causes of poverty and historical trauma. The nation is waking up to the fact that — by design — policing is and will always be violent and unaccountable to oppressed people, including Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and Muslims and other religious groups. 

The project of abolition involves more than eliminating the system — it means using our radical imagination to dream and create the world that we want to live in. But there are things we can do now. We must immediately defund from and reduce the harm of policing while we build the alternatives that can replace it, such as those that could be developed through the CRISES Act in California. This is a challenging mandate, but it is necessary and possible. Over the past four years, PolicyLink has partnered with a large and growing number of organizations, including those led by directly impacted communities, to design and build a new system that will keep all communities safe and healthy without criminalization, surveillance, or punishment. 

Abolishing the structure of policing is but one liberating act. There are others. To win on equity, we must center the very people our systems and institutions have treated as expendable — Black people. Acting with a consciousness in which we see the interactive effects of discrimination, subjugation, and disempowerment on the lives of Black people and how they are baked into our policies, practices, and institutions. We must also stand in solidarity with those seeking Black liberation and act on the demands of coalitions of directly-impacted people, like the Movement for Black Lives.

Be disgusted at what you see from the police. Be even more disgusted by the repeated, purposeful refusal of our country to respond to what Brother Howard Thurman describes as the demands of the disenfranchised, disinherited, and dispossessed. We have reason to be hopeful if we heed Dr. King’s exhortation to break free from the “intoxicating drugs of white supremacy mixed with gradualism” and usher in an era of Black Liberation.
- Michael McAfee is President and CEO of PolicyLink

Highlights from the News, Analysis, and Commentary

“Racism is an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says in a statement responding to the killing of George Floyd and a pandemic that has accelerated racial inequities in every realm of life. 

“The convergence of these tragic events — a pandemic disproportionately killing Black people, the failure of the state to protect Black people and the preying on Black people by the police — has confirmed what most of us already know: If we and those who stand with us do not mobilize in our own defense, then no official entity ever will,” 

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes in a New York Times op-ed.

Please share with your networks, send your ideas and feedback, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram using hashtag #COVIDandRace.

We hope you find the COVID-19 and Race Series an important tool for keeping up with news about the virus and its impact on communities we serve. As a nonprofit organization, PolicyLink is honored to provide resources to support the needs of our nation's 100 million economically insecure individuals. Generous partners like you make our work possible.

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