A woman raises her first at a rally for racial justice

Regardless of What Happens, Structural Racism Persists

Awaiting a verdict in the Chauvin trial.

It is likely that a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial will be rendered in the days ahead. And it will come against the backdrop of the events involving Daunte Wright, Caron Nazario, and Adam Toledo, names we learned in the past few weeks as we have witnessed the violence and injustices directed at each of them.

We could wait for the verdict to issue a statement, such as those I have written post-Charlottesville, following the massacre in Pittsburgh, after the George Floyd murder, and in the aftermath of this January’s insurrection, among too many other times where our collective rage demanded we speak out.

We often react to seminal moments such as the Chauvin trial verdict, using them as a prompt to raise our voice, to speak to our values, and to compel us to action.

And yet.

The work of anti-racism demands that we act, not just react. The harsh reality is that regardless of the outcome of this particular trial, we know with certainty that the rate of murders of Black and Brown citizens at the hands of law enforcement remains appallingly high. We also know that the systemic racism inherent in our systems of policing and criminal justice do not serve us equitably.

The work of anti-racism demands that we act, not just react. Tweet This

Indeed, as reported this week in the New York Times, since the testimony in the Chauvin trial commenced on March 29, “at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead.”

Add to this the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate, the blatant transphobia playing itself out in statehouses around the country, and the many other explicit, and subtle, ways that racism, anti-Blackness, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment present in our society daily.

The verdict will neither change these facts nor the underlying realities that create them. Our work to combat anti-Blackness, to address structural racism, and to strive for equity will—and must—persist.

Our work to combat anti-Blackness, to address structural racism, and to strive for equity will—and must—persist.

In speaking with several community leaders and friends from the Black community, I have heard a mixture of sadness, anxiety, and rage as the trial has unfolded. As the verdict nears, we must support one another, by providing space for people to give voice to their emotions and feelings, by allowing that expression that to occur without judgment or counter-argument, and by permitting this sadness, anxiety, and rage to be expressed.

Last fall, Barr supported King Boston to create the Forward Fund, a flexible grantmaking fund to support BIPOC-led community organizations and grassroots efforts, created in anticipation of possible post-election crisis. Fortunately, those funds did not need to be deployed, but as this trial draws to its conclusion, King Boston plans to support a range of activities to create community space for listening, dialogue, healing, and support. We are augmenting our grant to ensure this vital work is well-supported.

And so, we will not wait for a verdict to grant us permission to speak a few of the truths that persist regardless of what happens:

Black lives matter, regardless of what happens.

Systemic racism must be combatted, each and every day, regardless of what happens.

Barr remains dedicated to the cause of racial equity—for the long-term—regardless of what happens.

Indeed, regardless of what happens, let’s be sure to care for one another in the days and weeks ahead. We will need each other’s support, compassion, and, yes, love.

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