Why I am Optimistic That Racism Will End Someday?
Author: Jerry Locula
Translated into Spanish by Gilma Cristina Sánchez Cossio
There are many perspectives that may coagulate that racism will never end. One such indicator lies in the fact that racism is entrenched in western societal culture and can never be exterminated. For this reason, ‘optimism’ may therefore be an inconceivable term to associate with the ending of a four hundred years far-right policy and societal sanctioned racism. Consequently, to be optimistic that racism will end may sound delusional.
However, what my eyes have seen, what my ears have heard, and what has happened here in these days of George Floyd have certainly elevated my spirit and made me feel genuinely optimistic that a day is coming in the centuries ahead when racism will have no place to breathe.
I am with the strongest conviction that the inexorable upsurge of global consensus as well as policy changes, the everyday new talking point for individuals and social institutions including families, churches, fraternities, and governments will bring down the curtain on racism in years to come. The creation and institution of new social paradigms and courageous agendas directed against years of marginalization and discrimination will subdue racism if not in our generation or even the next.
George Floyd did not die in vain
On 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man met his final moment on earth (Fox, 2020). This day, 25 May, the day of George Floyd, will not only go deep down into history as a distasteful day but as an extraordinary day that changed the course of history in the long fight for racial justice.
Here, on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, police arrived and apprehended Floyd following a simple telephone call made by a teenage cashier of a Minneapolis convenience store on an allegation of US$20 counterfeit he had used to buy cigarette (Schmidt, 2020).
For eight minutes and 46 seconds (Thorbecke, 2020) the knee of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis white Police Officer, was pinned on Floyd’s neck. Floyd didn’t fight back, but he was still executed in the presence of a crowd of powerless bystanders. Chauvin’s colleagues, who had sufficient power and legal authority to protect George Floyd, only stood by and watched him died.
To date, George Floyd’s memorial remains on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The site has turned into somewhat a shrine where mourners and sympathizers, activists and policymakers, Minnesotans, and people from all walks of life want to drive past to see when visiting or passing through the twin’s cities. People have filed past to see where the horrific death of an unknown black man has turned on brighter light on America and global racism.
In these days of George Floyd, the wave of changes that are taking place around the world are signs of empowerment and hope for a better racially just world. The developments have turned my fears into fervent hope and my skepticism into optimism that no matter how long it takes, racism will end. Here’re where my optimism lies:
Symbols of colonialism are coming down
In Great Britain, statue of Edward Colston, a seventeenth century illustrious but notoriously infamous slave trader, was toppled (Elmi, 2020); while in America, so many statues are being brought down.
The 1931 10-foot bronze statue of Christopher Columbus in Minneapolis was brought down by protesters (Frost, 2020) on 10 June 2020, the 15th day of George Floyd’s protests. This doesn’t only signal the condescending unpopularity of racism. It is also notable optimism in the fight against the felonious discrimination that black people have endured for centuries.
Analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) suggests that dozens and possibly more than 50 confederate monuments around the United States have been torn apart or removed as a result of the institutional racism they instigate (Budryk, 2020). This is a huge achievement in just three months since the killing of George Floyd. These efforts are reinforcing my optimism.
In Africa, where the slave trade destroyed humanity and its culture, and where western imperialism has been disrupting real African generational advancements, campaigners of racial justice are calling for the decolonization of places (Angopa, 2020) and institutions.
Renown companies and personalities now supporting social justice efforts
Birthed in the early 1970s (ACCP, n. d) and became widespread in international law and developmental initiatives over the last 40 years, Corporate Social Responsibility has endeavored to contribute to societal goals.
Now, in these days of George Floyd, I am beginning to see what I may term as a more Corporate Social Justice Responsibility sweeping across the world. While Corporate Social Responsibility remains relevant, I sense that Corporate Social Justice Responsibility will be a compelling need and a new norm in the coming era.
This stands because of the fact that some of the world’s biggest corporations, institutions, and celebrities are now standing up in solidarity for racial justice as well as making huge pledges and donations towards corporate social justice responsibility.
Bad Robot announced to provide $10 million, Uncut Gems $500,000, Disney $5 million, Tik Tok $3 million, Twitter $3 million, Facebook $10 million, Amazon $10 million, YouTube $1 million, Google $1 million, Warner Music $100 million, Universal Music Group $25 million, 10K Project $500,000, as well as Apple (Cowen, 2020 a). These are pledges and contributions earmarked for efforts towards social justice education and programs.
Celebrities such as musical star Rihanna, through her Fashion House, Fenty, have also pledged money for social justice (Cowen, 2020 b). Earlier, in June, Michael Jordan announced giving $100 million to organizations dedicated to promoting racial equality and social justice (Burton, 2020).
Moreover, several institutions have taken courageous steps by firing employees who collaborated with racist ideologists, while others are repairing relationships with key individuals whom they once dumped for criticality against racial injustice. All of these are happening after the killing of George Floyd. This is true assurance toward racial equality.
FedEx dismissed an unnamed employee while the New Jersey Department of Correction suspended a Senior Officer after the two white men were caught in video footage in jarred enactment of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee in George Floyd’s neck. In a tweet, FedEx said, “We stand with those who support justice and equality,” (Bella, 2020 a).
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the actions of the two men were “repugnant.” The Mayor of Franklin Township, John Bruno, and the Police Chief, Brian Zimmer, also jointly condemned the actions of the men (Bella, 2020 b).
James Bennet, Editorial Director of media empire The New York Times, was forced to resign after fierce criticism from a number of former and current journalists from the Times, following the publication of an article from Tom Cotton of Arkansas calling for the deployment of national guards to overturn demonstrations in George Floyd’s protests (The New York Times, 2020).
At the same time, fashion brand L’Oreal Paris announced a plan to repair the relationship with the transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf, whom it had dropped in 2017 for making comments against race and white supremacy (NBC News, 2020). While this may seem like a public relation to protecting the business, it brings firms and corporations to realize that now and in the coming age, there will be no accommodation for racist corporate entities in society.
Black people are now heading key US institutions
When George was killed, as part of a sudden but crucial sweeping racial justice reform taking place in many institutions across the US, it became obvious that the United States Air Force, too, was not immune.
On 1 July 2020, the Outgoing Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein, in a Brookings Institution’s virtual event, quickly asserted that something broke loose on US Air Force following George Floyd’s death. In his statement, he said, “and what broke loose is an opportunity for us to make long-term, meaningful and lasting change that quite frankly we should have been doing before” (Correll, 2020). With this, Goldfein meant equal opportunity of leadership, something black people were long prohibited from getting.
Recently, for the first time in the history of the US Military, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, an African American, was appointed as its first black Chief of military service. (Lamothe, 2020). US Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara M. Barrett, administered the oath of office to the 58-year-old Brown on 6 August 2020, setting a historic record. The US Senate voted 98-0 to confirm him.
Institutions of higher learning endorsing social justice and ethnic study courses
Not only has there been an incredible outpouring of global generosity including financial pledges and donations to promote social justice efforts, but many institutions of higher learning are making changes to their curriculums to enroll social justice as required courses. California State University (Allen, 2020) is one of the major US Universities to make the announcement.
More people are speaking out:
More than ever before, across the United States, the epicenter of protests in the killing of Floyd, and throughout the world, more and more people are speaking out not only about but against racial injustice. Racial equality has become a serious socio-economic and political debate everywhere. The call for racial justice is now on the lips of everyone irrespective of their colors, genders, ages, and beliefs.
From the time in memorial, social justice has been a heart and soul subject in the religious world. But in these days of George Floyd, the religious sentimentality of racial justice has become even more widespread. Since 25 May 2020, the day George Floyd was killed, followed by the global protests, there have been ideas and strategies, efforts and cooperation, reflections, and actions of how to change the course of history in support of racial equality.
From various lecterns around the world, messages on social justice have become the principal theme in discourses. At various support, social, study groups, and fellowships, the message of love for one another regardless of the skins’ colors have dominated all deliberations.
Policies and ways of life are changing in America and around the world as the memorandum for racial justice resonates with a simple theme, “racism is malicious; it should have no place in our world.”
I wish no African American had ever faced such a brutal and racist death experienced by George Floyd and those before him. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a day is coming when racism will end.
Four hundred years’ fight for justice – the achievements so far
The fight for racial equality has been a long time coming. Gains made so far may seem inadequate. However, these attainments are worth a heartfelt celebration even though the accomplishments made may seem negative when compared to how long the journey has been, the heavy price and sacrifice, and the efforts devoted.
And because freedom itself is not free and takes time to realize, I believe counting on the achievements made so far in the fight for equality deserves commendations and festivity, even though the intended destination may still seem afar.
Campaigns by Churches and other religious entities for the abolition of the slave trade set the tone for the continual struggle today. And that was good! At least, in 1807 (Black Presence Home, n. d), the conventional slave trade ended. Let’s not mention modern-day slavery here. It shall be addressed subjectively.
Following the abolition of the slave trade, the fight for wholistic freedom to include participation, justice, and liberty was birthed because there were still some forms of slavery and injustice going on.
After all these long fights between the 16th and 18th hundreds, the emancipation proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln was declared on 1 January 1863. This was a major achievement towards the fight for justice. The emancipation proclamation was a presidential decree that avowed that all individuals held as a slave in the Southern states were freed (National Archives, n. d) without any preconditions.
Then, the Civil Rights Movement, an umbrella organization of nonviolent crusaders in America from the 1940s to the 1960s, continued the fight and achieved greater success towards racial equality. The movement can be accredited for the major successes it accomplished including the passage and enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendments to the US Constitution, which legally underpinned the political equality of African Americans (Khan Academy, n. d. a).
In August 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act. The US Congress has amended the Act five different times to expand its protection, (Voting Rights Act, 1965) realization and enjoyment. The Act is undoubtedly ground-breaking legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
Also, campaigners of the Civil Rights Movement were successful in dismantling the Jim Crow Law (Khan Academy, n. d. b). The Jim Crow law was both a state and local legislation that ensured the enforcement of black segregation in the South.
Additionally, the enactment of a federal law banning racial discrimination and giving way to the general awareness of the African American cultural heritage and its exceptional contributions and benefits to the history of the United States was another remarkable achievement (Khan Academy, n. d. c) witnessed.
One significant accomplishment as a result of all these fights for freedom and justice was the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama, in 2008 (Khan Academy, n. d. d). Billions of people had long intransigently doubted that a black person would sit in the oval office, the highest presidential office on earth. With these catalogued milestones, why shouldn’t I be optimistic that racism will end someday regardless of the long road that may be ahead?
I am optimistic because the tide is turning against systemic racial injustice in America and around the world. In these days of George Floyd, discussions on racial equality have topped daily talks, be it verbal or written, casual or formal, and even throughout the popular media landscape.
Individuals who were racially intolerant are becoming more constructively conscious, some taking matters into their own hands by beseeching their neighbors to never give blind eyes to racism.
There is now a sweeping global consciousness against insensitivity towards racial profiling. Governments, congress, parliaments, and legislatures alike are passing reform bills to ensure racial equality and eliminate structural violence deeply rooted in law enforcement.
Those with white privilege are actively participating and making sure that racism is defeated. More than ever before, the involvement of all black people in this fight has earned attraction. This gives more legitimacy to the fight for justice and freedom.
In no other time in history has such global commonality for the fight for racial justice orchestrated powerful and passionate support like these days of George Floyd. This is why I believe racism will cease to exist someday even if it takes long years.
Certainly, racism will end because slavery itself was never forever. Racism will one day come to an end because the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt for 430 years (Wright, 2015), but God in his mightiness delivered them from long years of suffering.
Racism is destined to end because history has recorded some of the supreme empires that reigned for many years, but they crumbled and fell. Today, there is nothing like the Roman empire, but only a democratic republic (Sawe, 2019) following the abolishment of the Monarchy in June 1948.
Racism will one day come to a complete end and new generations of people of color will never be subjected to cruelty simply due to the color of their skins. I believe this because the fiercest wars were fought for ages, but they never lasted until thy Kingdom come.
The universal coalition of activism for racial equality that spontaneously exploded immediately after George Floyd was killed, and what humanity did here, will not only prevail as a true testament in history. It will reecho across generations, and the world will emerge into bright and glorious daybreak for every human presence, and racism will be eliminated.
I am with the securest persuasion that a day is coming when pages of history will remind unborn humanity that in the days of George Floyd, men and women, boys and girls, black and white – people of all colors and groups across nations – amalgamated against the hate and discrimination that black people faced for centuries.
I am genuinely convinced racism will one day be swept away from human society where love and oneness will sail on incessantly.
And those with deep Christian faith will further convince me that racism will pass away because Scripture says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” as told in the New Testament book of Matthew 24:35 (Bible Hub, n. d). “Heaven and earth,” here would mean “everything,” including racism, and his “words” are his “judgment” that must be fulfilled.
My optimism is further electrified by the promise of God in Revelation 21 (Bible Gateway, n. d) of the “New Heaven and the New Earth.” God will authentically redeem humanity, and racism will be no more.
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Jerry Locula hails from the West African State of Liberia. He is a peace, human rights and social justice activist, and former Human Rights Officer of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. His nearly six years of work in South Sudan was primarily monitoring and documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity and advocating for the rule of law. Jerry’s technical expertise assisted South Sudan Central Equatoria State’s Assembly to enact “Girl Child Education Art” consequently guaranteeing the rights of girls to education in that country. While in South Sudan, he helped fostered grassroot peace initiative between fighting forces and saw the return of peace in Yei River State. Back in his home country, Liberia, Jerry worked with the Independent National Commission on Human Rights as Director for the Department of Complaints Investigation and Monitoring where he spearheaded major investigations and reported on high profile cases of human rights violations in the country. He also worked with the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Programme of the Lutheran Church in Liberia as Human Rights and Governance Officer at which time he conducted training in conflict resolution and human rights for crossed sessions of the populations including law enforcement personnel, traditional and community leaders. He led efforts in settling major land disputes between towns and villages in Liberia that resulted in peaceful coexistence. In 2005 and 2011 presidential and general elections in Liberia, Jerry traveled all over the country teaching citizens; especially women and young people about not only their rights to vote, but the power of their votes. Currently, Jerry is Founder and CEO of the Locula Foundation; a nonprofit organization he has set up to promote social justice, human rights and empower communities in Liberia. Jerry holds Master’s in International Law and Human Rights from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org