01 Jun FROM OUR CEO: CONFRONT THE TOXIC VIRUS OF INEQUALITY
Something is rotten in our midst and we need to name it, clear it out, and allow our communities to heal. Video evidence of system-level racism has virally accosted us in rapid succession. Before we have enough time to grieve from the last incident, another one unfolds.
We watched Ahmaud Arbery gunned down while out for a jog. We watched his killers roam free because of their relationships with the systems of power in their community, arrested only after mass national outrage demanded attention.
We watched Patricia Ripley tragically drown her own child and then call the police to report two fictitious black men, leveraging an age-old racist trope that has led many innocent black men to be arrested, held, and convicted of crimes they did not commit.
We watched Amy Cooper weaponize a call to the police, literally showing off her knowledge of what it means when a scared-sounding white woman reports a black man. She exploited the racial decay in the system that we all know is there: even an innocent black man faces grave danger when the police are called.
And then, to complete the narrative in terrifying 3-D, we watched George Floyd suffocate with a knee to his neck over the duration of a video so long that it brings rage to any sane person. It underscored what Amy Cooper knew: our public safety systems do not protect us equally.
We watched these incidents unfold knowing full well that this inequity has played out for centuries. The only thing new is the video footage streaming down our timelines. What is most disgraceful is that these videos only shine a light on one of the many forms of rotten, systemic racism in our communities: criminal justice, education, housing, economic development, healthcare. We see it in the rates of death from COVID-19. We see it in who carries the greatest burden from hurricanes and other environmental disasters. The wrongs themselves are heavy enough, but the cumulative effect is enough to weigh down even the strongest among us.
It is time to demand better. The toxic virus of inequality has festered for long enough and caused incalculable harm. It’s time for us to clear out the rot, and allow our communities to build.
And perhaps, we are in a rot-clearing moment. Nearly every system in our ranks is rethinking the way they will operate in a post-pandemic future. As our communities protest and demand better, we must affirm that our systems rebuild in ways that wipe out the habitual stripping of opportunities from communities of color. The Miami Foundation team has connected with our donors, grantees, partners and activists leading on this work. We’ll share next steps in the coming days.
This is a moment of great rage, of great mourning. But somewhere within us, we have the power to use our emotion as fuel to reshape our communities to be more equitable, more resilient, and more reflective of our highest values as we climb our way to the other side of this.
Rebecca Fishman Lipsey is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.
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