All our hearts are heavy over the events of the past week.
The unspeakable death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and the ensuing civil unrest--which has sadly brought even more examples of police abuse of our citizenry as well as intimidation of a free press and free expression--have made these days feel like desperate times. Some may even say they don’t recognize our country. If you ask our black sisters and brothers, they may say they recognize it all too well. And therein lies the problem—the deep history of racism and injustice perpetrated against black Americans has continued to fester.
The grotesque murders of innocent, often young, black men and women at the hands of law enforcement over the past few years are not “new” occurrences; they are recent iterations of age-old American practices made more visible through cell phone photography and social media. Now we all get to see what our black colleagues have been living with for years. Let us as friends and allies, family and co-workers, union compatriots keep our eyes open for each other and for our society. Let us keep our hearts and minds open as we work to dismantle hate and racism, overt and subtle, in our communities, our shared workplaces, and our unions.
All unions—as the greatest force endeavoring on behalf of working people—must continue to struggle to bring racial and economic justice to all our members and their communities. And, as never before, our unions must commit to anti-racist practices and ending hate in all its forms, in all its locations, most especially where we work and where we commune together as unionists. A big part of that work must be the ending of American policing practices that have transformed into paramilitary efforts now squarely aimed at black and brown minorities. In fact, many of our black colleagues have been pleading for this for some time; it’s time we all—especially our white brothers and sisters—join in to answer those pleas with power and grace, love and shared responsibility.
While this can all seem so overwhelming, especially given the reality of Covid 19, its disparate impact in Black and Latinx communities and its staggering economic fallout, we must dig deep as a union to find in ourselves what Cornel West calls “magnificent moral courage and spiritual sensitivity.” We believe we can do that. It’s the only way we have ever won anything.
In deep solidarity and with resolve, Dan Montgomery | President Stacy Davis Gates | Executive Vice President Jane Russell | Secretary-Treasurer Mike Day | First Vice President