George Floyd was murdered in June 2020. Following that, during the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Mayor Bowser, speaking from above the newly minted Black Lives Matter Plaza, forcefully stated
“we can’t just paint those words behind us. We can’t just say those words. We have to live them . . . We have to undo the laws and systems that have codified racism for far too long . . . Together, we can turn this reckoning into a reimagining of a nation.”
That reimagining must start here in the District of Columbia. Black and Brown people in the District of Columbia have faced generations of racism, resulting in discriminatory policies, practices, and systems that have kept many Black and Brown families in poverty, adversely affected access to employment, homeownership, health, and taken many lives. COVID-19 lay bare these inequities as Black and Brown people disproportionately contract and die from the virus and disproportionately feel the impact of the economic crisis.
We have an opportunity to model what a racially equitable District of Columbia can and should look like for the rest of the country. This is the time for the District of Columbia to prioritize and center the eradication of systemic racism and its harmful impacts on our residents – with a specific focus on anti-Black racism. If we center this vision, the rest will follow.