These last 3 months have been hard! Dual pandemics embraced America. Both pandemics showed as a country we were unprepared. Both pandemics showed the inadequacies of the system. Lives have been lost. Long lines at food banks appeared everywhere. Education has been upended. Schools have been closed. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Businesses have shuttered. Communities are now restless and unsettled. Both have been the catalyst for protests. Yes, both pandemics are having lasting effects on America as we knew it.
It is important to note that one, COVID 19, has only been in our lives for 6 or 7 months. In that short time, people have mobilized locally, at the state level, nationally and internationally to arrest/flatten the curve. A laser focused response has attacked COVID 19. Within weeks, trillions of dollars in resources and manpower were spent treating those infected and affected. Now billions more is being invested in research to prevent future outbreaks and finding a vaccine to cure the virus. Under no circumstances is it acceptable or desirable to relive or live with this pathogen for one moment longer.
Yet, we have been living with the other pandemic, the one called RACIS , for centuries. People have died with this one too. We have lived with unequal educational opportunities. We have lived with inadequate economic opportunities. We have let the digital divide widen and equal access to competent healthcare has to be fought for at every turn. This pandemic thrives in cities and towns, in states and throughout the country every day. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent matches that lit the kindling.
Network and cable news have told the story of fear, concern, inequality. Yet with this second pandemic, RACISM, we have not seen a similar laser focus on solutions. It’s time that we decide not to live with this one as well. If you are still thinking we will get through this doing what we’ve been doing, I ask that you imagine living the last three months for 400 years!
Last week my inbox was filled with letters from organizations and leaders speaking to “standing with the protesters”, “committing to address racial injustice” “wanting to be a part of the solution”. No doubt the words are sincere and true, but they are words! In meeting after meeting, in interviews and commentaries, I have heard people say “this is an important moment.”
So, NOW … to all who have written, said or thought “We stand with…”, or “We are committed…” or have “Reaffirmed our personal and institutional commitment to racial justice…”, let’s turn those words into actions on every level, including a critically important systemic change in the arts sector.
I invite you to PARTNER WITH THE CARR CENTER. Join us in our quest for a meaningful, impactful difference in our work and in the world. No more standing, committing or reaffirming. Let’s create partnerships that can really impact and change the system.
Moments do not last for hours. The time is NOW!
Hope to hear from you!
Oliver Ragsdale Jr.
President, the Carr Center