On Monday, June 15, the Rhode Island Democratic Party held
its Presidential year State Committee meeting. At that meeting, I expressed
sentiments shared by so many about the urgency of ending our implied approval
of bigoted statements, by our silence in the face of them.
If nothing else, I hope a profound lesson was learned by the tragedy of George
Floyd’s death – and now, Rayshard Brook’s death - that we cannot remain silent
in the face of bigotry, at the risk of us condoning and advancing it.
Over the last few weeks, the eyes of America were forced to
relive those tragic 8 minutes and 48 seconds, when George Floyd died, and to
take a hard look at who we are as a people.
Like so many, I’ve had countless conversations about that
horrific video footage and have come to this important conclusion:
we cannot turn away until we figure out what it’s going to take for
this nation to end such bigotry, because when George Floyd said the
words “I Can’t Breathe,” our collective breath was being taken away.
Each of us, whether white or black,
rich or poor, gay or straight must take personal responsibility for stopping
bigotry when we face it. And it starts with one simple
question. What one thing are we willing to do, to fight systemic
It seems that when a friend or a colleague or a neighbor
says something we know to be racially-insensitive, we often shrug it off
saying, “that’s just what that person is like.” Or do we actually stop them and
say – ‘You’re wrong. What you’re saying is bigoted and wrong-minded?”
We all have a chance – as Democrats, as Americans,
as human beings – to change the arc of history.
As President Obama often reminded us, “We are the change we
have been looking for.” And that each of us can actually make a
profound difference in that moment, and in the bigger picture. But each of
us has to be willing to step up and take personal responsibility to make that
Our nation is founded on the principle of ‘all men being
created equal.’ Let’s give it more than lip service: let’s finally do something
about it. Now is the time to commit that we will root out racism in
every aspect of our society. No more suspending black and brown kids more than
whites for the same disruptive conduct in the classroom. Our kids deserve
better. No more paying minority workers less than their counterparts for doing
the same work. Our co-workers and employees deserve better. And yes, no more
police interactions that force us to remember senseless tragedies like Breonna
Taylor, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, and now, Rayshard Brooks. They
Let’s commit to tearing down the structures of systemic
racism in our society, and finally live up to the promise of America -
for all people once and for all. The black community deserves nothing
less. George Floyd and his family deserve nothing less.
Justice requires nothing less.