Addressing Systemic Racial Injustice

Sober statements from two former U.S. presidents:

President George W. Bush:

It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.

President Barack Obama:

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

This isn’t a left vs. right issue. Racism is deplorable, and systemic injustice, untenable. It’s encouraging to see leaders from both major U.S. political parties state unequivocal positions in support of systemic change.

As a fair-skinned immigrant, I haven’t suffered the type of pervasive brutal discrimination that leads to murders like George Floyd’s. This grants me a degree of privilege — and responsibility.

The events of the last two weeks have awakened me to the importance of helping bring about systemic change. I don’t yet know what this means for me — but I’m committed to listening and learning.