A view of Boston's historic Pilot House from the harbor

Matt Conti

Dismantling Racism is Everyone’s Work

The murders in Buffalo are, yet again, a call to action.

The deadliness of white supremacy revealed itself again this past weekend in Buffalo with the cold-blooded murder of ten innocent Black Americans. These were people going about their daily business who had their lives ended so abruptly, so atrociously, so senselessly.

How often must we repeat this loop of violence and mayhem?

How many more racially-motivated mass shootings can we endure?

How much longer do we permit cable news hosts, social media platforms, and the voices of our own elected politicians to fuel and enable such hatred, rooted in pure racism and debunked conspiracy theories?

When do we finally conclude that enough is enough?

I have no pretense that this will be the last incident of its kind nor do I believe that the predictable expressions of sadness—and the inevitable “thoughts and prayers”—will actually translate to real change.

But what I do know with some certainty is that change starts with each of us—standing up, speaking out, and taking action.

In our work at Barr, we have the great privilege of supporting many bold and effective partners who do the work of advancing change and centering racial equity. But, I know from my conversations with many fellow leaders of color that they are exhausted, overwhelmed, and tired, as they continue to bear the burdens of a culture of white supremacy each and every day. And while we welcome allyship and support, we also need everyone to act—and to do.

To dismantle racism, those of us in positions of power and privilege must step up.

To dismantle racism, those of us in positions of power and privilege must step up.

Consider these events in our country just over the past few weeks: we have now lost one million people to a health pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of color. The rights of women to have agency over their own bodies is at threat for the first time in close to 50 years. The violence on display in Buffalo is not isolated to that single horrific incident; it happens across our country, every day. Indeed, just last week in Dallas, three women were shot at an Asian-owned hair salon in an incident that is being investigated as a hate crime.

This is a time for action. Statements of solidarity and expressions of concern separated from tangible action are insufficient. Any action, large or small, makes a difference: how we treat people, how we vote, where we spend our resources, how we spend our time. The list goes on and on. And with intentionality, clarity of purpose, and anchored in a commitment to dismantle racism, we can make a difference.

But it needs all of us, taking those actions both large and small.

Among those actions I take today is remembering the lives of those who were murdered this weekend in Buffalo. Here I share the names, faces, and stories of the innocent victims.

Today we grieve. But tomorrow, and every day thereafter, we memorialize these fellow Americans, and so many other victims of hatred, by speaking out and taking action.

We really have no other choice right now but to speak with conviction and to act with urgency. The alternative should terrify us.

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