5.31.2020
Condemning the Violence of Institutions and Committing to Action

To those who condemn the violence in our country today:

We stand with you.

We condemn the trafficking, rape, torture, and enslavement of Africans that reached American soil 401 years ago, that engrained anti-black racism still manifesting today in the structures of our society.

We condemn mass criminalization that separates families and sends one in three black men to prison and where 60% of the 2.3 million people caged each night are people of color.

We condemn a public school system that still disproportionately singles out black students for suspensions, expulsions and even corporal punishment and imprisonment.

We condemn the widening racial wealth gap in the United States, where 40% of black children are living in poverty, a rate twice as high as among whites; and where the median wealth for white families is 10 times that of black families.

We condemn the theater of partisan politics impacting food insecurity, which could leave 54 million Americans without food due to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19. Pre-COVID, 10% of white households experienced hunger, while households of color experienced hunger at a rate of 21.5%.

We condemn state-sponsored violence, in which the rate of black Americans that are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans.

As Robert Kennedy said: “For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly and destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.”

We condemn the violence of institutions. And we commit ourselves to action. Action to repair the harms of this generational violence. Action to invest in the wellbeing of our communities so true healing can take root.

Right now, every politician across this country, from the President to your local Police Commissioner, must be asked: 

  1. Do you support reparations for victims of police violence? And what is your plan?
  2. Do you support repurposing funds from the militarization and criminalization of communities, to instead invest in their wellbeing? And what is your plan?

And then we must ask ourselves, what is the role I can play? What is my privilege? How can I support black leadership in my community demanding justice? Where can I repair the harm in my own relationships, in my own community, in my own heart? 

Kerry Kennedy
President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights