George Floyd, an unarmed black man, spent 8 minutes and 46 seconds held down by a police officer while three other officers watched. Pleading for his life, he said, “I can’t breathe.” Those words were a cry for help, and they’ve since become a call to action for all of us.
As a society, we’re still grappling with the consequences of racism and injustice that have cast a long, harsh shadow on this country since its earliest days. Covid-19 has also laid painfully bare the systemic healthcare, housing, and economic inequity that has resulted in communities of color being disproportionately affected by the virus.
There’s no easy solution to the problems we’ve faced for centuries. But there is a way forward, beginning with an internal reckoning we all need to do, each within our own communities. For us, as a first step, we must work to make Jews of Color feel more comfortable at our own communal tables. Well beyond that, our Jewish community must be more present in addressing the state of racial inequality in our country.
Last January, when UJA and our partner JCRC-NY organized the 25,000 person “No Hate. No Fear.” march to fight anti-Semitism, we asked neighbors of all colors and faiths to join us. And they did. We can do no less — our obligation now is to stand with the black community in peaceful protest, calling out racism and bigotry.
This Sunday, JCRC-NY had been planning to hold a virtual Celebrate Israel parade, which has been postponed. Instead, together with JCRC-NY, we’re convening a virtual conversation on June 7 at 1:00 pm with black community leaders on racism in America. You can register here.
We invite you to listen and to learn so that our community can be part of the solution, and take real and long-overdue steps toward ending racial injustice.