Like most Americans, I’ve spent the past several days searching for answers to the latest (but sadly probably not the last) senseless murder of an African American. I’ve been reading a lot. This CNN article lays out racial inequality pretty simply and starkly. It started with slavery, but it’s continued to fester. Reconstruction. Jim Crow laws. Segregation. Redlining. Building interstates through black neighborhoods. Basing school funding on property taxes. The list goes on and on.
I’ve also been listening to quite a few podcasts that cover not just the George Floyd case, but the underlying causes of these sad outcomes. The Fresh Air interview below is one of the best I’ve heard. Terry Gross interviews Wes Moore, the author of several books about racial disparities, including his new one Five Days about the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015. (A similar situation to George Floyd… we haven’t really made much progress in the past five years.)
The entire interview is below, but here’s a five-minute snippet that really brought things home for me:
“We have be able to address this level of inequitable policing that takes place in our societies and the lack of accountability that takes place when improper actions happen. We also have to deal with the underlying conditions that our citizens — and oftentimes our citizens of color — are repeatedly being allowed and being forced to endure. And if we don’t address both those two things together, we will continue just having to deal with the pain of the consequence of the one.”Wes Moore
I couldn’t agree more. This is about much more than rogue cops… that’s just a symptom of a much larger disease. The systems are broken: poverty, systemic racism, housing inequalities, economic opportunities for minorities, health care.
We have to change the systems. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But watching the peaceful protests, I’m hopeful and optimistic that the tide is finally turning… and a change is gonna come real soon.