This is the second part of a series in which civil rights activists, cultural influencers, advocates, and critical thinkers explain racial relationships, social change, community protest, and political awakening in the United States after the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and other black Americans. The group, which includes NAACP President Derrick Johnson and #OscarsSoWhite Creator April Reign, comments on race relations in summer 2020 and how America may be less divided.
Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center
Co-founder of the TIME & # 39; S UP Legal Defense Fund
Our current racist reckoning is not the result of a change in the message of the blacks – it is the result of more people in power who are finally awakening to it.
Fatima Goss tombs
Q: How would you describe the current unrest in America?
A: The famous quote by Fannie Lou Hamer "I'm tired of being sick and tired" resonates. The current uprising that has arisen from so much pain, anger and frustration is stimulating. Seeing millions take to the streets to support the lives and future of blacks is an important reminder of the healing potential of action. And I think as a result not only the police, but also the institutions will change. That gives me great hope.
Q: Is this a fleeting moment or have we reached a turning point where permanent change is possible?
A: I think thanks to a brave movement with clear demands for change, we are at a significant turning point in our long struggle for racial justice and freedom. And whether we are at a point where change is permanent also depends on the ability of leaders across the country – the elected, leading large institutions, to immerse themselves in upcoming changes to create a safer and fairer world to accomplish.
Q: Is there any other moment in history that relates to the moment we are going through now?
A: Between the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the move against black police violence, I think this moment is unique in American history. Black communities are at the crossroads of each of these crises, which only reveal the overall impact of generations of structural racism built into the health, business, law enforcement, and virtually every system in this country. The global pandemic has made everything more visible and people have had time to absorb the pain and promise.
A civil rights activist, lawyer, and writer explains racial relationships, social change, and political awakening in the United States after the tragic death of George Floyd. When it comes to races, "systemic problems have plagued the nation not just for decades, but for centuries," said Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. According to Fatima Goss Graves, co-founder of TIME's Legal Defense Fund and president and managing director of the National Women & # 39; s Law Center, summer 2020 is a moment when multiracial coalitions come together. Best-selling author George Johnson explains that the revolution is being televised.
Q: What exactly has to happen for black life to play a role in the US?
A: The current uprising and movement have opened our imagination to the possibility that our laws, policies, and budgets show that all black lives are important. I hope that the need to relieve the police will pretty soon reduce the role of the police in people's daily lives and allow public security to be redesigned. We are already seeing major successes when school authorities vote to remove the police from schools. And what was made visible by the global pandemic – that blacks disproportionately lose their lives in COVID and their jobs lose disproportionately due to the associated economic collapse – did not actually begin with COVID. To ensure that black life is important, account must be taken of the structural inequalities that have led black women to have higher maternal mortality rates, lower health insurance and more vulnerability to the effects of COVID. It will need to eradicate the economic inequality that results in black women earning just 62 cents on the dollar compared to white male counterparts, and a federal minimum wage that has not been raised in over a decade. It requires investment in communities and systems that show that all black lives are important. It will require that our culture and systems treat black survivors with security and dignity.
Q: What does social justice mean for you personally and why should others care?
A: True justice for me not only centers the experiences and voices of the injured – it trusts that they will show us the way forward. We are in a phase of acceleration, but the work of defending the lives of blacks and naming a better future is not new work. Our current racist reckoning is not the result of a change in the message of the blacks – it is the result of more people in power who are finally awakening to it.
Q: What solutions will cure racial divisions and differences?
A: The systems that make this moment so difficult for black people – from healthcare to schools to policing and our economic ecosystem – aren't just broken. They were developed with these unjust results in mind. Decades of tinkering around the edges of these systems ignores this critical fact. We have to fundamentally redefine the role of these institutions if we ever hope to build the systems that lead to changes that people take to the streets to challenge them.
Q: How do you think about the future?
A: Hopeful. A certain amount of optimism is inherent in my work – I couldn't fight for racial and gender equality if I just believed that things were only going downhill from here. I am also very aware that this special time is only part of a “long curve” that generations have driven forward. But at such a dark time in our nation's history, it was understandably hard for some to believe that real change is still possible. When we watch march for march and rally for rally, it is clear that more and more people in this country are becoming aware of the fact that the future we want will not find us – we have to find it. We must continue this struggle with clear eyes and at the same time remember that cynicism is always the enemy of progress.