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June 1, 2020

Recent Events Underscore the Need for Anti-Racist Policies at All Levels

Through the tragic events we have witnessed, and the voices of demonstrators we have heard in every corner of America, these last few weeks have brought us heartbreak and underscored the need for a new normal — one that values Black lives.

In the names of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others who leave behind unfillable voids in their families and their communities, each of us has an important role to play in combating racism and standing up against injustice everywhere.

That so many people in communities across the country are doing just that stems not only from the most recent violent attacks on Black people, but from centuries of systemic racism and oppression. The inertia of our nation’s history, paired with deliberate policy choices, have worked together to erect barriers that prevent prosperity, opportunity, and justice from being broadly shared. One visible symptom of this structural racism, which is itself a pandemic, is COVID-19’s heavy toll on communities of color.

We must do better.

Lawmakers at every level of government must recognize and acknowledge the role that public policies play in creating and maintaining these forms of oppression, as well as white privilege, and commit to dismantling them. That work can begin by ensuring that communities in Virginia who face the greatest barriers get the public investment and support they need not only to survive, but to thrive.

The Commonwealth Institute

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