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Minneapolis is burning.
Minneapolis is burning because an officer of the state murdered George Floyd in broad daylight. Minneapolis is burning because this is what it looks like when you push a community to its breaking point. Minneapolis is burning because our institutions, poisoned by a legacy of racial oppression, have failed us.
White supremacy is more than an ugly stain on American history. It is a legacy lived every day. And that will remain true until we demand leaders and laws that affirm that black and brown lives are not expendable.
The coronavirus pandemic has laid this truth bare. Despite making up just 13 percent of the population, black people have accounted for nearly a quarter of COVID-19 deaths. Black mortality is 3.57 times higher than white mortality. We know the virus does not discriminate, but our society does. Poverty, unequal access to health care, and environmental racism have combined with the coronavirus to deadly effect, leaving behind devastated families and communities across the country.
These deaths should outrage us. So should the death of George Floyd. So too should the death of every person who has lost their life due to institutional violence and racism. And it is this very outrage that we’re seeing expressed in Minneapolis.
“A riot is the language of the unheard,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his 1967 speech, The Other America. “And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.”
We have failed to hear for too long, and it has come at an immeasurable cost. It is time that we demand genuine action towards equality for all from our government, our workplaces, our Meetings, and churches—and commit to this work ourselves.
Minneapolis is burning, and we cannot—must not—turn away from the heat.
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