This is a good time for monumental change!

Black Lives Matter is focusing our attention on police brutality and murdering Black people, which is nothing new in our city or our country. Our city’s history is rooted in the trade of enslaved Black people that created more wealth than tobacco, iron manufacturing and flour mills combined – the second largest market in enslaved people in our country. Our city was built by the labor of enslaved Black people. That violence against Black people continued under Jim Crow and Massive Resistance.

At the same time, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths reflect the racial and ethnic disparities in our communities with Black and LatinX people impacted much more than their percentage in the population. Many essential workers are paid sub-standard wages, and are most at risk for Covid-19 because they are in jobs requiring frequent close contact with others. Small businesses are cheated out of emergency loans by very large corporations.

LGBTQ+ people are also experiencing violence and murder. Black transgender people are the ones who experience the worst of this, but most of us have some incidence ranging from verbal violence to murder. Young people continue to suffer from bullying and harassment.

It would be hard for us not to notice what is happening.

But, this is also a good time to lend our support and work for structural change, which is the way to end structural racism.

For Richmond that includes a civilian police review board and the Marcus Alert, as well as changing our funding priorities to emphasize social work, mental health work and education. It also means removing those physical representatives of structural racism – the monuments to the lost cause and white supremacy.

And, it also means committing or re-committing ourselves to know more about structural racism and support efforts to eliminate it. That includes understanding the school to prison pipeline, what is needed for health equity, what Diversity Richmond can do, and so much more - what we can do so that none of us are left behind.

I am making that commitment and I urge others in the LGBTQ+ community to do the same.