Sunday, January 02, 2022

Doing Better

 As noted previously, this is 2022. Looking back at that year that was, I will note that there were some wins in the big book of justice. Ahmaud Arbery's murderers were sent to prison. As much as we may have been conditioned to expect that the lives of Black Americans did not matter as much as their white killers, this was a refreshing notice that maybe things have begun to change. On June 25, 2021, Derek Chauvin was sentenced to twenty-two and a half years in prison for killing George Floyd. Kim Potter, former Minnesota police officer, was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright. That was just a couple days before Christmas. 

So maybe 2022 will be the year when Institutionalized Racism is kicked to the curb. Or maybe these verdicts are still just a faint glimmer of hope on the horizon. Recently Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke not about our criminal justice system, but our infrastructure: “I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a White and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or it would have been — in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices. I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality.”

Yup. How high you build a bridge can make a huge difference. And yet, the same right-wing voices that snickered about Secretary Buttigieg taking paternity leave found this notion hilarious. How can roads be racist? The fact that these were almost exclusively white voices making these comments shows just how long the road we still have to travel really is. 

And then there's medical care. The disproportionate loss of black and brown lives to the COVID-19 pandemic is as unsettling as the practices and policies that keep families of low income and minority groups from getting the health care they deserve. 

Which is a continuation of the cycle of poverty that exists for people of color in the United States. A survey from 2019 showed that a typical white family had eight times the wealth of a typical black family. 

It's 2022. If you believe that the past two years have made everything right again because a few years back we elected our first black president, then we have a lot further to go than we had imagined. It's time to stop imagining. It's time to start doing. Better. 

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