On May 25th, 2020 our community, our state, and our world watched the behavioral outcomes of systemic racism displayed by four Minnesota police officers, responsible for the killing of a human being. We watched as one white officer, in an intentional act of overt discrimination, knelt on the neck of a black man; while three other officers were complicit, displaying gross negligence and inaction in the death of George Floyd.
In this, we are reminded of the injustices that exist in our world. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue. The late Dr. James Cone in his book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree wrote: “The claim that whites had the right to control the black population through lynching and other extralegal forms of mob violence was grounded in the religious belief that America is a white nation called by God to bear witness to the superiority of white over black.”
It is time that we all must actively come together to help combat systems of oppression for all minority groups. It is well within our responsibilities to support and advocate for our family and friends when systems have continuously failed them. We need to take personal accountability for how we continue to perpetuate racism at every level in society. We need to educate ourselves on how to be vocally anti-racist. Then we need to take that knowledge and apply it every day; becoming effective in the stance of opposing systemic racism. We often hear all lives matter. Well, all lives can’t matter if black lives don’t matter.
We all have heard those words, “I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd uttered those words in May 2020. Eric Garner uttered those same words eleven times in 2014, before dying. It is the collective voice of black Americans and we must acknowledge those words and act to resolve. We must, and can, do better at dismantling a system that favors once color over another and work together to build a better future of equality and dignity for all Americans.
As writers, our words matter. Our words have power. How many of us challenge ourselves by including people of color in our novels? Or perhaps, use people of color as a stereotype, such as an Asian man being great at martial arts? Together, we must all work together to dismantle inequality and discrimination. We can all work to being more conscious when writing what we love. Do your part in making positive change.
Make your words matter.
~Kimberly Clement, Board Member