The peaceful protests around our state and throughout our country are an expression of fear, grief, frustration, and anger.
Black communities led the nation in mourning the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor over the last week – and they are now leading calls for justice and long-term changes to dismantle the racist systems that hold them back.
People are tired and they’re angry that nothing has changed.
With the president unwilling to lead, we must fill the leadership void. That’s why I helped introduce the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act last year – to better enforce equal protection laws and work to end racial profiling in the justice system.
It would tie real strings to federal dollars for law enforcement, and make it clear to state and local governments that if you want this funding, you have to make sure it’s going to be used to protect the communities you serve – not be turned against them.
It would also increase training on racial profiling issues as part of Federal law enforcement training, and provide grants for the development and implementation of best practices.
I’m also working on a Senate resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. We are not going to make progress until we acknowledge and tackle all of the ways that centuries of racism affect Black and brown Americans’ health – job opportunities, housing, education, generational wealth, pollution, food deserts, and so much more all intersect. They all contribute to the disparities this pandemic is laying bare, but that Black and brown communities have been living with for generations.
Of course this is just a small start – one bill and one resolution will not solve centuries of oppression, and there is so much more we need to do. We need to reform our justice system, to address wealth inequality, to reverse disparities in health care, to help communities that have been hurt by redlining and Jim Crow laws, and so much more.
The best ideas won’t come from Washington – the solutions we need must come from the communities who have been excluded for too long.
We need to listen to protesters’ voices, demand justice for all Black lives lost to police brutality, stand with the people who built this country, and work with them to find long-term solutions. I love my country, and if you love your country you fight for the people who make it work – ALL of them.
Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio.