Last week, it was George Floyd, killed by a Minneapolis police officer after allegedly purchasing cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Before Floyd, it was Breonna Taylor, murdered by two cops serving a no-knock warrant. Before her, it was Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Dominique Clayton, Sandra Bland, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice—black Americans dehumanized and killed by law enforcement officials who seldom face consequences for their actions.
In their names, and in the names of countless others who have been burdened by centuries of pain, fear and anger, we must all do better to reconcile our nation’s past and mend such profoundly broken systems—a health care system that leaves the most vulnerable without essential care, a criminal justice system designed to target people of color, a financial system designed to concentrate wealth in the hands of the white majority, an education system that isolates and underserves those who most need it, a political system designed to keep power in the hands of the privileged.
I have found myself disappointed, not only by the tragedies that have taken place and by the state of our country, but also with myself for not knowing what I didn’t know.
I’ve spent these last few days educating myself on the roots of the unrest to which we currently bear witness. In the process of coming to terms with my misconceptions and ignorance, I’ve compiled a list of resources (which is by no means exhaustive) that might be helpful as a launching point.
Read: “Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins, “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lord, “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.
Listen to: “Momentum: A Race Forward,” “Intersectionality Matters,” “Fare of the Free Child.”
Watch: “13th,” “The Hate U Give,” “When They See Us,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Selma,” “Dear White People.”
We—specifically white people—must listen to,
learn from and amplify black voices. Donate to NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Black Lives Matter, Minnesota Freedom Fund, Know Your Rights Camp and your local bail fund. Call Minnesota representatives and police unions and demand the prosecution of the officers involved in Floyd’s death. Sign petitions. Vote for politicians who make justice, diversity and representation a priority. Speak up when you witness discrimination or profiling. Protest. Support black business and individuals. Spark conversation and hold others accountable for injustice.
While we mourn, while we demonstrate our indignation, we must commit ourselves to taking action to work toward the future we have promised, one in which all of us are equal, free and one.
Zoe Simon is a 2020 graduate of Wood River High School. She lives in Hailey.