Racism Kills and We Must Root It Out of Our Systems

by Rev. Michael Livingston, Interim Senior Minister, The Riverside Church, NYC

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Racism kills. Racism is not personal, it is systemic.  It is low wages and food stamps. High rents in dilapidated apartment buildings.  Poor or no health care.  Underfunded and ill-equipped public schools.  High infant mortality rates and shortened life spans.  Gerrymandered congressional districts and voter suppression.  A criminal in-justice system that is little more than a modern-day web of plantations.

It is Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd, killed by police officers, or in Ahmaud’s case, a former police officer.  George Floyd and the officer who killed him worked together in a nightclub in Minneapolis “…both part of the team responsible for keeping rowdy customers under control,” reports the NY Times.

The systemic becomes personal.  Racism kills.  And we must root it out of our systems which infect individuals with consequences as deadly as the COVID-19.  The killing of black people by police officers must stop.  Our attention from this essential work must not be diverted by the rage that erupts from black communities when the deaths mount and tepid official responses ensure that no change will come.  Black lives matter.