Center for American Progress

Violence of This Week, Past 400 Years Shows Systemic Racism Is Underlying Disease
Press Statement

Violence of This Week, Past 400 Years Shows Systemic Racism Is Underlying Disease

Washington, D.C. — Following a several-day period in which several instances of police violence toward Black people were caught on camera, Danyelle Solomon, vice president of Race and Ethnicity Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

I am tired of putting out statements spotlighting the deaths of Black people in America—at the hands of police, at the hands of white vigilantes, at the hands of COVID-19. The past 48 hours have laid bare once again with stark clarity the entrenched systemic racism that pervades American life. In Minneapolis, an African American man, George Floyd, was killed by police, resulting in the firing of four officers. George Floyd’s death comes on the same day that a white woman in New York  threatened an African American birdwatcher by calling the police and invoking his race. The following day, Black people protesting the brutal murder of Mr. Floyd were assaulted with police tear gas and rubber bullets. This police violence stands in sharp contrast to the images of police standing calmly while mostly white protestors—some of whom were carrying weapons—demonstrated for the reopening of businesses. These instances of overt violence toward African Americans come while we too are navigating a pandemic that disproportionately threatens our health as well as our safety. All while decades of compounding health and economic inequities have made the coronavirus more deadly for Black Americans than their white counterparts.

America, racism is our underlying disease. It has permeated not only our economic, social, and civic systems but also our everyday behaviors. How is it that you can put your knee on a fellow human being’s neck and listen to him beg for air and just sit there? How is it that you can call the police and weaponize the words “African American male,” knowing that could very well lead to someone’s death? How is it that, despite knowing Black people are dying at higher rates from COVID-19, more testing and resources aren’t deployed immediately to those communities? It’s been almost 50 years since James Baldwin said to be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant rage—and yet the words remain acutely accurate today.

Despite the familiar brutality of this past week, and the past 400 years of systematic inequality, Black people will remain resilient. But this can’t be our fight alone. It must be a collective fight where white Americans join us in fighting for real freedom. We will continue to find joy. We will continue to speak out against injustice. We will continue to fight white supremacy. Join us.

Related resources:

The Intersection of Policing and Race” by Danyelle Solomon

Policing During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter

Expanding the Authority of State Attorneys General to Combat Police Misconduct” by Connor Maxwell and Danyelle Solomon

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].