This June, as we celebrate Pride and the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising for LBGTQ rights, we have little reason to be proud. Pride month is about tolerance, education, and equality, just as the Civil Rights movement was about equal rights and racial justice. But more than 50 years later, it’s clear that we have learned very little as a society about pride. In the life course on humanity we have earned ourselves an epic F. But there is hope. As millions take to the streets in peaceful protests all across the United States, and around the world, it would seem we are in the midst of a much-needed awakening, which as former President Barack Obama said earlier this week, is the impetus to change America to live up to its highest ideals.
On the surface, it may seem like we’ve made progress. In a telephone poll conducted by CBS News in 2014, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, White Americans thought that while discrimination remained, progress had been made to rid society of racial discrimination. However, Black Americans still saw discrimination as widespread. Yes, discrimination is widespread and shows up as subtle prejudices and lack of equal opportunity in the workplace, in educational institutions, in healthcare, in the food system, and other places. This belies an underlying horror faced by Black families where being Black can seem like a death sentence. Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis, said recently in a NYTimes interview “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.” NPR states that since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings; that doesn’t even include those who died in police custody or were killed using other methods. George Floyd committed the crime of a forgery. With his recent death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, captured in a horrific video for all the whole world to see, We have failed as human beings to not have seen this and done something sooner. But it’s not too late. Let’s start now to make things right. Let’s take pride in being human beings with heart and a sentiment of liberty and justice for all.
Art courtesy: Enough by Artist Meera Agarwal
So it is time for an awakening. We are not in the stone ages — we have science and technology to put people on the moon, to fly to far-away places. We have medicines and cures for many diseases, electric and self-driving cars, and smartphones that bring the world to us in the palm of our hands, Alexa, AI, VR and AR to make our lives easier and fun, and so much more. We’ve evolved technology to new heights. Let’s work on ourselves and evolve into better human beings.
Read more of Seema Kumar’s Beyond Limits blog.