Our hearts are crying out for so many of our fellow citizens and human beings who struggle under the boot of oppression and who feel they have no choice but to take to the streets in protest. The stories of injustice for African Americans repeat themselves over and over again, from systemic inequities and unfairness to the all-to-common violent and unwarranted deaths.
We realize that our systems of equality and justice for all are broken, and we hope that the outcry happening across our country today will finally lead to the systemic change we need.
Our experiences as white Americans mean that often we can't truly understand where someone is coming from or what has led them to where they stand today. We know we've been given many, many gifts in our lives, and we recognize that many have not received the same opportunities and privileges that we have. It is difficult for us to know what it's like to live under systemic and overt racism:
- We don't know how hard it is to build a life when you come from a legacy of slavery, lynchings, church bombings, policy brutality, Jim Crow segregation, systemic poverty, education inequality and continued overt and covert racism against us.
- We can't know how it feels to watch on TV and online people who don't know us but who openly hate us and want to hurt us for the color of our skin.
- We haven’t experienced in our families the fact that African Americans are over 2.4 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people.
- We don't witness firsthand how Black Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for drugs, even though Black and white Americans use and sell drugs at similar rates.
- We will never experience for ourselves how Black men in the US receive sentences that are 19.1% longer than those of white men convicted for the same crimes.1
The examples are countless, and while we can't fully understand what we can't experience firsthand, we can recognize it and fight for change. We believe strongly in social justice, racial equality and equal opportunity for all races and genders. We stand behind those who are peacefully protesting the most recent horror stories of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the unending stream of stories of bigotry, racism and hatred.
We want change, and we want to be a part of creating that change and building a better country and a better world. At the heart of this is a belief in compassion and dignity for all people.
We may not know all of the right ways to create the change our society needs, how to address the racial injustices and inequalities that are so engrained in our history and our country today. But we know it's there and we know it's not right that so many people face these barriers, and we believe there is an opportunity now to take the first step of enough people recognizing and standing up for this change. We feel we must speak up and more so, we must commit to continuing to fight to be part of the solution.
Ryan Keiffer and Gretchen Gaede