• Jackie Tosto

There's Work To Be Done

We are in unprecedented times right now. We as a community are not only dealing with a pandemic that is affecting black and brown people at a disproportionate rate, but are now watching protests erupt across the world after watching police officers murder George Floyd, an unarmed black man. We are all mourning. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, but also Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other black people who have lost their lives due to racial violence.

Black Americans have been targets of police brutality for generations. Black Americans comprise just 13 percent of the US population, yet are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police. We have watched the videos of white men with AR-15s storm the Michigan capitol without injury to their bodies while the police have tear gassed, pepper sprayed, beaten, and shot rubber bullets at unarmed black and brown protestors across the country. There is no denying that black and brown bodies are being treated as less than.

Less than five months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while jogging by white supremacists in our own state. We saw the system neglect to act in any way until there were large-scale calls to action around the world. We also know that one of the reasons that the murderers were arrested was because there was a video. We know that the reason why even one police officer was arrested after George Floyd’s murder was because there was a video. Yet, we know that countless other acts of white supremacy have occurred without repercussions because no one saw them, but we know they happened.

We also are mourning the loss of thousands of black and brown Americans who have died due to COVID-19. In March, 83% of those hospitalized in Georgia due to COVID-19 were black, yet under 40% of the population of Georgia is black. Georgia is of course not unique in this situation. All over the country, studies have shown that black people are getting sick and dying at an alarmingly higher rate than white people. A Washington Post analysis showed that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority. Black and brown Americans are often more likely to be considered essential workers, yet are less likely to have access to health insurance.

Our country is in a very difficult place, but we must stay strong and hope for a better tomorrow. We stand with the protestors during this time. As we enter June, pride month, we acknowledge that it was protest that ignited the fight for and advancement of LGBTQIA rights over the last 50 years, and that it was a black trans woman who threw the first brick at Stonewall.

We are angry and sad, but we must persevere and take action. We call for the arrests of all four police officers who were involved in the murder of George Floyd. We demand accountability from the many officers who have harmed peaceful protestors over the past week. We demand for the implementation of independent police review boards, and for police disciplinary histories to be made public. We also encourage our community members to use their right to vote, to not only vote in a new president, but also new senators, new judges, new prosecutors, and new sheriffs who will respect black lives. Until we change the system, and until there is justice, there cannot be peace.

We Need Your Help!!

Did you know that Georgia is one of four states that does not have hate crime laws or require data collection on such crimes? Tell your state senators to vote for HB 426! Click HERE

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