America’s history of racial inequality continues to haunt us. Many of the issues we face today are shadowed by an underlying narrative of racial difference and bias that compromise our progress. Our nation, now more than ever, is in desperate need of truth and recovery. That process is sequential: we must first tell the truth about our past before we can overcome it.
— Bryan Stevenson, Director, the Equal Justice Initiative
In the past two years, the nation has seen an upsurge in racial harassment and displays of overt racial hatred, as seen most tragically in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the violence surrounding the resurgent KKK and the murder of anti-hate activist Heather Heyer z”l.
Yet, anti-Black racism, both overt and more subtle, in the form of implicit bias and systemic racism, has been with us since the founding of the country and continues to this day. From slavery to mass incarceration and police killings of unarmed Black men and boys, from redlining to unfair banking practices, from legally mandated segregation to workplace discrimination and implicit bias in our schools, we continue to witness daily the oppression of millions of Americans because of the color of their skin.
The first step in confronting racial inequity is to educate ourselves and our community about white supremacy and white privilege and to heighten our awareness of the history and legacy of systemic racism. To that end, JUFJ co-sponsors educational programming on racial justice issues, including discussion groups, workshops, and film screenings.
We must also confront racism in our own community. In June 2018, Mr. Robert White, an African-American resident of Silver Spring, was out for a walk in his own neighborhood when he was confronted and then killed by a police officer. JUFJ has joined a coalition of neighbors and grass-roots organizations working to hold the police accountable for this killing and to explore and advocate for changes in police policies and practices that unfairly impact people of color in our communities.