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Guest Opinion

Three years post-George Floyd, have we tired of social justice?


Last week America celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As usual, for me, the day was a time of reflection on where we are as a nation concerning racial equality.

I must say that 2023 was a disturbing year. Many of us knew that the George Floyd effect would not last forever. It was an event that made many Americans examine the state of race and become aware of the conditions under which African Americans exist. America began to attempt to rectify these inequalities in a variety of ways, increasing representation in corporations and media, broadening the scope of employment opportunities and engaging in conversation about what it truly meant to be Black in America. People of color took advantage of these unexpected opportunities.

But, dang, I know Americans have a short attention span, but it only took three years to tire of social justice? And declare racism no longer an issue? Except racism against white people that is.

As I said earlier, the loss of interest was anticipated. But what wasn’t anticipated by me was the extraordinary backlash that resulted in the dismantling of Affirmative Action and the speed with which the progress was undone. People actually lost their positions with little or no resistance from those who professed to be social justice warriors.

I must confess that this response should have left me a little more shell-shocked, but my faith in America’s ability or willingness to address inequality is not very strong.

However, I attended an event celebrating the life of Dr. King at the Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Solebury. The honorable Pastor Stephanie Templin Ashford is a warrior for Christ and issues that affect the voiceless, as was Jesus.

Her congregation has a ministry dedicated to tackling the issues of populations that face obstacles others fail to acknowledge.

The service portion of the program included food preparation for underserved communities and learning American Sign Language. The entertainment was provided by the Mad Beatz Drummers and the Keynote speaker was Sean McFadden, executive director for UrbanPromise Trenton.

There was a Racial Wealth Gap Simulator to help people understand the laws passed in the U.S. that contributed to the wealth gap followed by a panel discussion.

Panelists included three professors from Monmouth University — Dr. Johanna Foster, Professor Claude Taylor and Dr. Lisa Dinella — along with David Oxley, a wealth analyst at Bernstein Private Wealth Management.

While I consider myself versed on issues of race, the panel was an eyeopener in many ways.

One statistic that stuck out — African American families have 10 cents of wealth for every dollar that people without color possess. While people without color often “blame the victim,” the panel did an excellent job of explaining how American systems/structure/media work to maintain this gap.

For instance, I just learned that while African Americans are still waiting for 40 acres and a mule, white single women were given plots of land to move to the Midwest.

The experts also explained the different forms of racism and how institutional racism means that one can deny the existence of racism while reaping the benefits. In other words, you don’t have to do anything racist anymore, the work has already been codified in your favor. Even though 2023 has been a year of victory for white supremacy, it is heartening to know that there are still justice warriors out there recognizing and fighting for equality for all, and, even better, to see a church leading the way, especially in Bucks County.

Deborah White lives in Doylestown.

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