Today, full of pain, anger and sorrow, we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all those who are victims of the violence of a racist system. They should be with us today.
We watch in admiration demonstrators who put themselves on the line to make us face the reality of over-policing, police brutality and other ways that racism touches Black communities every day. We listen closely to the anger, fear and despair of our friends, neighbors and fellow Americans. This is a moment for all of us to confront the truth: that this country has never overcome its legacy of slavery and segregation, or the pernicious forms of discrimination and bigotry that are with us today.
Now we ask ourselves: How do we go forward? It has to start by putting aside hate and fear. It has to start with love and empathy.
But that is not enough. We cannot falter. We cannot weary. Rather, we must double down on our work uprooting festering structural inequalities close to home. When we look around our city and our state, we see an unjust status quo.
Black families in Philadelphia face a higher rate of evictions—legal and illegal—than their white neighbors, leading to a lifelong record hampering them in their search for safe housing. Pennsylvania students in classrooms with more Black and brown faces receive fewer resources for their education, even accounting for funding gaps between wealthy and poor school districts. In Philadelphia, 85 percent of the victims of gun violence are Black.
Men and women who come in contact with our criminal justice system, which disproportionately arrests and incarcerates Black and Hispanic Americans, face employment discrimination long after they return to their communities. Racism shapes the air we breathe and the water we drink, as whole communities of color are subjected to the destruction of their environment through pollution when companies take advantage of neighborhoods and cities that have been deprived of political power.
As we work to address these inequities, we cannot assume that we know everything that must be done. In this moment, we all have to stop and listen. Deeply.
Please join us, and join each other, in finding the way forward. We hope for a future where America acknowledges the truth that Black Lives Matter. We hope for peace, a peace that comes, as Martin Luther King said, not from the absence of tension, but from the presence of justice.