In this time of intense anger and grief, in a country where Black communities are targeted by police violence, we want to acknowledge the collective pain that this moment represents.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. All killed in acts of violence, targeted because of the color of their skin.
It’s no accident that police violence, coronavirus, and climate change all disproportionately impact Black communities. Our healthcare, housing, food, transportation and energy systems put Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities at much higher risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus, whether from poverty or dirty air.
The painful words that George Floyd uttered as he was choked to death, “I can’t breathe” reflect both the devastating, immediate human cost of police brutality and the longer-term crisis of environmental racism.
Elected leaders have failed to prevent the more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus, failed to address police brutality, and failed to slow the disproportionate impacts of climate change on communities of color across the country. Underlying all of this is racism.
Jewish Americans have just celebrated Shavuot, the holiday of revelation. What has been revealed in our nation in recent weeks is not new. For some of us, it has been just below the surface, while for others, it is the lived reality, every day.
There is an urgent need to show up for communities impacted by these crises–to listen, learn and follow the lead of those most impacted.
Revelation is also about radically new vision. In this time of deep pain, we must together envision and build a new reality, one that dismantles the insidious racism that has long infected our country, and that sets us on a path to a just and sustainable world.
Together in strength,
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn