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Amir Locke’s Death and the State of Our So-Called “Racial Reckoning”

Last week Minneapolis police officers shot and killed a young Black man, Amir Locke, after charging through the door of the room where he was sleeping without warning.  

The story is all too familiar and eerily similar to the 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, who Louisville, KY police officers shot dead as she slept while executing a “no knock” warrant. Following Breonna’s killing and George Floyd’s murder a few months later, email inboxes throughout the country filled with statements and commitments from corporations and organizations, decrying the unjust murders of innocent Black people; memes with the faces of those killed took over social media; and protestors filled the streets of large cities and small towns all over the world. Many people called this a moment of “racial reckoning.”  

But the moment faded away. Aside from localized protests in Minneapolis, many, including corporations, the media, and social media users, have been largely silent on Amir’s death. And the commitments to anti-racism made by many have largely gone unrealized

We understand that in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and myriad of serious social, political, and environmental issues, it’s exhausting, overwhelming, and difficult to stay engaged. But it’s also necessary because prolonged disengagement normalizes behaviors, attitudes, and structures that conflict directly with equity. We must continue to speak out and draw attention to the racialized atrocities around us. Now is not the time to disengage or return to “normal.” America’s collective amnesia during the start of Black History Month is deeply disturbing but not surprising. It is the result of structural racism.   

In addition to staying engaged, all of us must renew our commitment to anti-racism work. We must continue to ask ourselves what we can do to advance equity in communities of color and actively work to build anti-racist structures. One of the hard-learned lessons from 2020 was that all of us must be invested in the work of anti-racism if America’s promise of equity has any hope of being realized. We cannot let our commitments fade and our amnesia win. Amir’s death is a timely but unfortunate reminder that together we have much work to do.  

We at Justice in Aging remain committed to breaking down the inequitable systems that undergird our nation’s laws and policies and rebuilding more equitable systems so that everyone can age with justice and dignity.

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