We are at a crossroads. So many things are colliding at the same time, and seem to increasingly highlight how disparities in all aspects of our lives shape who we are and how we react to events evolving around us. The intersection of the Covid-19 pandemic and George Floyd’s murder, and this week’s SCOTUS ruling on LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, has forced us to look at issues around diversity, social determinants of health, marginalization of different communities, racism, homophobia – they’re all part of a greater whole – and hopefully we’re looking at them differently now.
Since the tragic death of George Floyd, our county, in fact the entire world, has seen the rising up of a massive social movement for justice. This intolerable event exposed our country’s history of racial and social inequalities.
But it has not stopped. Since the Floyd murder, another 120 have died at the hands of the police. We all watched in horror last weekend’s murder of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. From shootings to hangings the violence against people of color persists. As has the calls for peaceful protest from the brave families of those that have been slain.
But the wheels of justice continue to turn. Cities across our country have taken up the call for police reform. Many have instituted changes that include expanding the role of social services to perform duties that never should have been in the scope of police work. And hundreds of thousands have bravely marched in cities all across the US. Change is coming. Finally.
This change was evident in the ruling that came down from the US Supreme Court Monday affirming LGBTQ+ job protection rights. The 6 to 3 ruling came about because 2 conservative judges, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch, joined the 4 liberal judges in this landmark ruling. A bigger surprise was that the majority opinion was written by Justice Gorsuch, a Trump appointee.
The key to moving forward with racial and social justice has to be based on increased understanding. From our earliest work surrounding HIV, The Henne Group has always worked to expand our understanding of marginalized groups. Much of the work that we have done has helped to build bridges across communities by closing the gaps in our understanding of one another. Social market research can provide much needed insights to help educate law enforcement, in the case of Mr. Floyd’s death, and employers, in the case of the Supreme Court ruling. We are all citizens of this country, of this planet.
Justice and the rule of law move ever forward. As Dr. King said more than fifty years ago, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” A few days after Dr. King spoke these words, he himself was murdered. Fifty years later his words still echo across the generations and are as true today as they were then. Let us hope that these days mark the beginning of the end of injustice so that our nation can move towards a “more perfect union.”
June is also Pride month for those in the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. As we celebrate our victories and look back to see how far we’ve come, there is still much work to do. As we move forward, it’s important to reflect on the past, and to move forward together with all marginalized communities, together, by our side.
Black Lives Matter
Jeffrey C. Henne