Letter: Urban League of Louisiana supports Rep. Ted James’ justice bill HR13
To address systemic racism within law enforcement, we have to be willing to acknowledge its existence
The Urban League of Louisiana wholeheartedly supports House Resolution 13 presented by Representative Ted James earlier today that “establishes a study group to study law enforcement systems and policing.” This is a tremendous step forward for Louisiana in the continuing struggle to eradicate systemic racism within law enforcement.
“We were disappointed, however, to learn that some legislators demanded that the resolution be stripped of what they considered to be “racist” language, including the mention of Mr. George Floyd‘s name. Disagreement was also had on the mention of race throughout the resolution, including the phrase “the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers in recent years raised a number of questions about the treatment of racial minorities within the criminal justice system.”
According to multiple media reports, some white lawmakers were deeply offended by this language and demanded that it be removed from the resolution before they would consider acting on it.
We understand that words matter. We understand that tone matters. But we also know that in order for an issue to be solved, it has to be faced.
The act of demanding the removal of Mr. George Floyd’s name because it makes some lawmakers uncomfortable reveals the need for this conversation to continue among those in positions of power and influence. In order to create sustainable change for racial equity, policy decision makers cannot ignore the racial disparities in law enforcement or the nation’s long history of racism.
In order for these efforts to be successful, we must face our past and look deeply into the systems that have long divided us, even if it makes us uncomfortable. This is the work that we must do together as a nation.
In the immortal words of author and activist James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Yours in the Movement,
Judy Reese Morse
President and CEO