BY REGGIE HUBBARD, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 06/02/20 06:00 PM EDT
To say that May of 2020 was a heavy month for all Americans is an understatement, especially black Americans and other communities of color.
We experienced several reminders of how treacherous it is to be black in the United States. May began with the news about the murders of Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. It ended with an instance caught on video in Central Park in New York City that could have ended tragically (but thankfully did not) and with the heinous encounter with Minneapolis law enforcement that resulted in the death of George Floyd.
At the same time, black, brown and Native communities are suffering disproportionately f
I am the descendant of slaves who could not vote. I help lead strategy and congressional outreach for a leading progressive organization. It was once extremely challenging for my ancestors to pursue higher education; I earned my undergraduate degree from Yale and received a master's for international management in Europe. My life’s goal has been and remains to be brilliant, in tribute to the countless lives lost, marginalized and devalued at the hands of systemic racism in the United States. Each new incident hones my focus and fuels my activism. You can do your part too.
We must make our voices heard, reminding all elected officials of their duty to their constituents and the common good, rather than ideological rigidity and special interest. To begin remedying devastating racial inequities of how COVID-19 impacts our communities, we must demand action from our government, specifically from the Senate. The Senate must pass the HEROES Act, which offers much needed relief to millions of people in dire need, including undocumented immigrants and people of color. We must advocate for complete data transparency to bring clarity to what is already known and suspected.
As a preliminary response to the brutal murder of Mr. Floyd, MoveOn has a petition with Color of Change calling for the officers that were complicit in this incident to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Far too often in the history of this country, white police officers have eluded justice in police brutality cases. This petition asks that America's criminal justice system work for the family of Mr. Floyd, not for the protection of those who took his life. Justice for Mr. Floyd starts with prosecuting these officers and it doesn’t end there. We must also seek reform that uproots calcified racist and violent cultural norms in some departments and introduces less violent, less militarized, more humane and community based approaches to law enforcement. This would introduce more accountability into the system that in some cases does not exist.
I am sickened, disgusted and exhausted at seeing innocent black lives extinguished at the hands of law enforcement and other vestiges of white supremacy. Now is the time for transparency and tough conversations, not obfuscation and avoidance. If this makes you uncomfortable, don’t look away — look deeper and ask yourself why we have been silent about this as a society for so long.
I know many around the country are feeling pain, anger and despair. And there are some who would seek to use this pain to divide us. But even with this deep pain, we can feel a shift in our collective consciousness. Anger can be either a creative and catalytic force or one of destruction and distraction. To me, we must join together and forge a new multi-racial, intergenerational majority that is represented in all levels of government and by the policies of the government.
We are seeing the nascent stages of this coalition forming now, demanding racial justice, expanded health care coverage and economic relief for all. I welcome the opportunity to work with elected officials and allies to advocate for legislation that brings us closer to a more loving, just and fair society. I welcome the opportunity to reimagine our future, leading us toward the better angels of our collective humanity and away from the dark echoes of our white supremacist past and present.
To those protesting now, stay vigilant, safe and focused on our ultimate goal in November. To Senate leadership: Serve the acute, desperate needs of your constituents rather than protecting the disastrous ideology of this failed president and pass the HEROES Act. Blessings on the memory of those lives lost to the coronavirus, police brutality and all other outcomes of policy rooted in malevolence, intimidation and negligence.
We have ways to go. Yet I still hold hope that we will overcome these crises — all exacerbated by the Trump administration— and grow ever toward the more perfect union we deserve and are being called to create in this moment.
Reggie Hubbard is the Congressional liaison and Washington, D.C. strategist for the liberal progressive advocacy organization MoveOn. He has worked on gubernatorial and national campaigns, including Florida’s 2006 gubernatorial race and on Bernie Sanders 2016 primary campaign. He also served as senior advance staff for Joe Biden under the Obama administration.