The past few days and weeks have laid bare the toxic racism and white supremacy that are woven into the fabric of America, every one of our systems, and every single town and city. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor and the harassment of Christian Cooper are not single, unique instances, but rather examples of the long-standing, pervasive, ongoing, systemic racism that infects our culture, government, and systems of power.
In America today, if you are a Black person, you encounter the potentially deadly effects of racism at every stage of your life. From schools that perpetuate the school to prison pipeline, to the community, where harassment and over-policing directed at Black people is the norm, to biases in the health care systems that contribute to health inequities, institutionalization in poorly performing nursing homes, and even early death. This is why we are seeing shockingly high rates of deaths from COVID-19 among Black people. We are witnessing communities of color losing people of all ages at an alarming rate.
And in America today, if you are a Black person, you can’t safely leave your home without putting your life in danger. And even inside your home, you may be gunned down for no reason. If you protest these injustices peacefully, you are criticized. If you protest loudly, you are criticized and often met with violence. It is racism that causes many observers to focus on the violence that sometimes accompanies protests, rather than the injustice at the root of the protests. Racism is a virus that infects the whole of our society. The xenophobic hatred aimed at Asian Americans, the high numbers of COVID-19 infections among Pacific Islanders and Latinx people, many of whom who are doing the essential work of caregiving and food service, the skyrocketing deaths in Native American communities – all of these are part of the racism that is embedded into every aspect of American life.
Here at Justice in Aging, we are in solidarity with members of our community who are fighting the devastating effects of racism. We acknowledge that we are all part of this system that bestows unearned privilege on many, and leaves others behind. We say together: Black Lives Matter. To fight racism, we must be explicitly anti-racist. We reaffirm our commitment to do everything individually and collectively that we can to break down these systems of oppression so all of us, at all ages, can have the freedom and justice we deserve as humans.