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Kiki Monifa is editor-in-chief of BlackHistoryEveryday.com. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.
It’s been more than a year since we were thrown into the double pandemic of COVID-19 and our national reckoning with systemic racism.
#BlackLivesMatter is still visible — it was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
But, so far, no one has been charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.
George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020, and the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nine minutes, is underway.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States have spiked, and on Jan. 6, white supremacists encouraged by Donald Trump rioted in Washington, D.C., trashing the U.S. Capitol.
Still, there is hope. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are leading the country in the fight against both pandemics. The acknowledgement of systemic racism and the need for police reimagination and reform has slowed, at least.
But, as a new poll conducted by USA Today/Ipsos shows, the divide between Black and white people in our country remains substantial. Only 28 percent of white respondents believe George Floyd was murdered, compared to 64 percent of Black folks. Just 35 percent of white people think U.S. race relations have worsened, versus 54 percent of those who are Black.
As a Black woman, I am deeply familiar with this gap in attitudes. My 17-year-old-son is afraid to leave the house alone. He says: “Mom, I am a Black man, I’ll be killed.” My 20-year-old daughter does not want to take mass transit because an 18-year-old Black girl, Nia Wilson, was stabbed to death in Oakland, California, where we live, by a white man in July 2018.
When I was growing up during the civil rights era, we typically felt safe with the police as long as we were not protesting, and safe generally around white folks, with the exception of the Klan.
Now there is no general feeling of safety, despite diversity and inclusion based on race in many other arenas in entertainment, corporations and technology.
The movement to defund the police/reimagine/reform is waning. According to the poll, only 13 percent of white Americans support defunding the police with 67 percent opposed; among Black folks, 28 percent support the call to defund the police and 37 percent are opposed.
The double pandemics were an opportunity for us to slow down and reset as a nation, to heal the wounds based on race. But systemic racism and police reform do not have the same deadline as the administration of vaccines for COVID-19.
Here’s to hoping that the cure for systemic racism does move forward so that my children’s children will not live in fear as we do.