We Cannot Afford to Sit Back as White Supremacy Wrecks Our Society
The world changed following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black women and men. Millions of people were motivated to publicly protest these brutal murders and to proclaim that Black lives matter. Their deaths were the tipping point that roused the public’s conscience to confront racism publicly.
As people of faith, we believe that there is that of God in every person, and we are called to create a society free of racism. At the center of our witness is an unwavering commitment to “the fundamental equality of all members of the human race.”
We believe that there is that of God in every person, and we are called to create a society free of racism.
The re-emergence of white supremacy today elevated the need to be vigilant and be more persistent in our anti-racist advocacy. We cannot afford to sit back as white supremacy wrecks our society, our democracy.
A June 2020 poll by Washington Post-Schar School (George Mason University) revealed that up to 74% of those interviewed strongly or somewhat strongly supported Black Lives Matter protests. It added that the murder of Floyd was a sign of broader problems of how Black people are treated. Simply put, the Black Lives Matter movement exposed the systemic racism in U.S. society, which rests on white supremacy. All along, the data on racial inequities in the U.S. are plain to see:
- Low-income Black people are three times as likely to live in an area of concentrated poverty as low-income white people (“2017 Hunger Report”).
- There are 11 infant deaths per 1,000 live births among Black people, almost twice the national average (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- Black mothers and babies are harmed by global warming and air pollution at a much higher rate than the overall population (JAMA Network Open).
- Black homeowners still pay 13% more in property taxes than white homeowners. These taxes fund local schools and police (“The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation”).
- Since 2013, 28% of those killed by police are Black people, despite being only 13% of the population (MappingPoliceViolence.org).
- Black people make up 13.6% of the population, but Black men make up 40.2% of all prison inmates (NAACP).
Until recently, most white people thought Black women and men no longer face much discrimination. According to 2014–2018 polls by CBS News and Monmouth University, racial attitudes of white people only shifted recently after several decades of stagnation.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people accelerated this change. It is manifested in other polls indicating high majorities of white people support Black Lives matter protests. This shift in public opinion opened more possibilities for FCNL staff, our community, and the broader Religious Society of Friends to increase our efforts to dismantle systemic racism.
While a majority of people now agree on the need for change, it is not enough. We must use this impetus to more persistently advocate for concrete policy changes that address racism and injustice in order to root them out.
Policies are what perpetuate systemic racism, and we recognize how it is manifested today. It’s not just in police brutality or the militarization of U.S. borders, but also in housing, health care, education, and foreign policy.
FCNL’s unyielding pursuit of a society with equity and justice for all is especially important at this juncture in history.
FCNL has long been committed to righting racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement has galvanized us to examine our legislative priorities: Where have we fallen short? How can we do more? Our current advocacy for more equitable COVID-19 relief packages is centered on the fact that Black and Latinx people are disproportionately suffering from this pandemic.
These communities have the highest numbers of infection; they suffer from the highest rates of unemployment and hunger. Yet, the COVID-19 relief packages have largely ignored their plight.
Our faith calls us to act. As the United States becomes a majority-minority country, it is critical that the decisions of our policymakers, legislators, and FCNL itself reflect this diversity.
Ensuring that there is a diversity of perspectives—and people—in formulating U.S. programs and its representation abroad is a way of rooting out systemic racism. In a recent article, culture change expert Dr. Caterina Bulgarella stressed, “Diversity of beliefs, perspectives, and styles can have a de-biasing impact on complex decisions.”
However, the 2019 Nonprofit Impact Matters reports there is still a continued lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in nonprofit organizations in general. More than 400 national nonprofits are headquartered in Washington, D.C.
According to 2014–2018 polls by CBS News and Monmouth University, racial attitudes of white people only shifted recently after several decades of stagnation.
This lack of diversity is shown in many other ways. In terms of gender, for example, a 2018 Institute for Women’s Policy Research study of foreign policy panels in Washington, D.C. concluded that women made up only 34% of experts featured.
Even the State Department, which is tasked with implementing the foreign policies passed by Congress is largely white and male. The American Academy of Diplomacy estimated that 81% of the State Department’s foreign service officers and 61% of its civil service staff are white people. While the 116th Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse in history, it is still a predominantly white (80%) institution, with 157 female and 379 male members.
Increasing diversity in Congress, in advocacy organizations, and in decision-making is, of course, not the only solution to uprooting systemic racism.
Persistence is needed, and FCNL’s unyielding pursuit of a society with equity and justice for all is especially important at this juncture in history.