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April 20, 2021
Today Derek Chauvin’s trial came to an end with a guilty verdict. While this was a victory for justice, it is also a stark reminder of the reality that in 2021, over a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation, to be a Black person, especially a Black man, in the United States means that one’s life is literally at risk on a daily basis while shopping, driving, jogging, and merely living one’s life. It is also a stark reminder of the scope and breadth of the racism that exists today that is based on misconceptions and false narratives that we’ve internalized for centuries, narratives that have racialized and demonized entire groups of people and produced deep-seated racist attitudes and systems in all sectors of our society that can lead to hate violence and even murder.
As the prosecutor in Chauvin’s trial so pointedly asked in his final words, “Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraint to a man who was defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn’t have a pulse, and to go on and do that for another three-plus minutes before the ambulance shows up, and then they continue doing it? How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?”
This is the ugly side of the country we all live in. But America is also about us – all of us! And as much as we are victims of centuries-old narratives about whites and non-whites, we continue to reinforce these racist narratives when we do not confront them in ourselves, let alone work to change the status quo. We all have a part to play so that no one’s family or community suffers again from the scourge of racism and hate. How many more people have to die before Americans are moved enough to become active anti-racists? It is up to us to answer that question.
At ING, we realized several years ago that we could not begin to address Islamophobia without also challenging anti-Black racism, anti-Latinx bigotry, anti-Asian sentiment, anti-Semitism and other forms of racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry that exist in America today. For while the narratives vary, the roots and impact of these bigotries are the same. With that understanding, we have expanded our programming to contextualize Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism with other forms of bigotry that various groups have experienced both historically and today. Through the Intercultural Speakers Bureau (ICSB) and associated educator resources, we seek to foster an understanding of the origins and impact of bigotry in the U.S. today and of how to counter racism and foster inclusive and equitable communities.
We hope that you will join us.
The following ING resources can be of help in this crucial anti-racism work: