By Dr. Nori Rost
Leader, New York Society for Ethical Culture
Dear Members and Friends,
Like many of you I was saddened to hear of the death of another young Black man at the hands of police. Tyre Nichols was a 29-year old father, photographer, and avid skateboarder. His killing by five Memphis, TN police officers was a horrific abuse of power. The video footage of his fatal beating is brutal.
The fact that the five officers charged with his death are also Black men shows the complex nature of police violence, but it does not dismiss the inherent racism ingrained into police departments across the nation.
A January 28th New York Times article by Clyde McGrady quotes Amber Sherman, an activist and organizer working with the Nichols family as they push for policy changes to the police, saying that “racism is a clear factor in policing when you look at who the victims of police violence are, not the race of the officers.” She added that officers of all races “are indoctrinated into a practice that sees Black people and brown people as less than.”
Our society is permeated by white supremacy, which devalues the lives, experiences, and worth of Black and Brown people. It is not surprising that most of the officers who killed Nichols were Black, given the institutional and cultural influence of white supremacy.
While it is tempting to give in to a sense of helplessness and anguish, it is incumbent upon each of us, particularly those of us who identify as white, to use our sorrow and our rage to create a more just and equitable world where all people can survive a “routine traffic stop.”
At the New York Society for Ethical Culture, we are committed to doing the necessary, hard work of racial justice. I invite you to revisit some of our past Platform talks, linked below, dedicated to making a difference for good in our world.
These programs are just a small sampling of the work we’ve done; there is much more to do. If you are interested in being a part of a team that works for racial justice in New York City and beyond, please email us at email@example.com.
Let’s put our outrage to work, and together we can change our world.
Dr. Nori Rost: “Martin and Malcolm: Differing Approaches to Racial Justice” – January 15, 2023
Dr. Arun Gandhi: “Becoming the Change: Transforming Anger Into Peace Power” – October 2, 2022
Jackie Rowe Adams: Safety in Our Communities – July 25, 2021
Dr. Joe Chuman: “The Humanity of Others” – June 20, 2021
Dr. Anne Klaeysen: “An Old White Woman Talks About Racism” – January 17, 2021
Bart Worden: “Repairing the Harms of Structural Racism” – July 12, 2020