The grief and trauma of recent weeks gave way to some relief after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty for George Floyd’s murder. It was a meaningful first step in Floyd’s family receiving some form of justice for the tragic loss of their loved one. And while the jury did the right thing given the clarity of this case, to the millions around the globe who raised their voices, demanding equity for Black Americans in our policing and criminal justice system, it is simply not enough.
The inherent bias toward Black people within the institutions sworn to serve and protect them continues to tear out the heart of our communities. Whether it’s policing based on control rather than safety that results in three-times more fatal police shootings compared to white Americans, or the new law aimed at criminalizing the right to peacefully protest in Florida, fundamental societal systems are structurally built to persecute Black residents across the U.S.
Nothing short of the health of our communities is at stake. The lives horribly lost to gun violence, the broken families left to grapple with indescribable pain, and the constant fear for their safety that Black men must live with daily – even while walking in a neighborhood – has endless ripple effects on our collective mental stability, educational achievement and economic growth in Black areas.
The hefty COVID relief packages out of Washington present a huge opportunity to address these core issues, including alternatives to using police as first responders for low-level incidents, support for diversion programs with paths toward job training and better opportunities and even more access to care for mental and emotional trauma. Our team is taking a deep look at this and the overall health of Greater Miami’s Black communities, combining hard research with stories, ideas and experiences directly from residents and advocates in Opa-locka, Liberty City, South Dade and elsewhere. What we learn will ensure on-the-ground solutions get support and connected to broader, systemic efforts that curb the devastating impact of gun violence on the long-term health of local Black neighborhoods.
Yes, rooting out structural racism is a long and hard fight, but in a moment of big change and while we have the momentum, let’s make big bets on our ability to reshape critical institutions impacting Black lives in Miami-Dade and beyond.
President and CEO