I know the pain that you are feeling because I am feeling it too. And I am tired. So very, very tired. I am tired of writing these letters over and over again. As a Black man with three sons, I am tired of the fear I must carry when they are out moving through their lives in a country where the lives of people of color are so easily extinguished. I am tired of the sickening legacy of racism in this county and of being told not to talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. Our nation is in crisis and we cannot continue to ignore the fact that the fabric of our society is being shredded by many among us who refuse to recognize our shared humanity.
As we mourn George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others who have been injured or killed because of the color of their skin, and as the protests against police brutality and injustice sweep across our nation, it may seem to many of you that our world is falling apart. People are frightened for many different reasons, and hurting in so many different ways. Floyd’s senseless murder at the hands of those sworn to protect us is the latest in an endless line of cruel injustices that stretch back hundreds of years. It adds to the crushing weight of a viral outbreak whose devastation has fallen most heavily on those who already suffer the most, and whose suffering has elicited little meaningful empathy or engagement from those at the highest levels of our government.
I wish I knew the answers and at times I struggle to remain hopeful. But as Desmond Tutu once said, times of crisis give us the opportunity to choose well, or choose badly. What kind of future do we want, and what kind of world do we want to live in? I believe America can be better, and the law is our greatest weapon in the battle for justice. As lawyers, we must wield that weapon wisely. There are those who will seek to use it to deepen inequality, to sow hate, and to crush the dreams of those seeking nothing more than a dignified human existence. We cannot let them win.
In times of crisis we must join together to protect the most targeted, vulnerable, and marginalized among us. Change begins when good people no longer choose to remain silent. So I urge you to lift up your voices now.
In honor of George, Ahmaud, Breonna and the many other lives lost to unjust acts of brutality, we will hold a virtual vigil for the BC Law community on Thursday, June 4, at 5 pm EDT. Let this be a time to voice your anger, fears, empathy, and your ideas. Speak your truth, but be willing to admit your own shortcomings and to listen. As Martin Luther King powerfully said, we may all have come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.
Dean, Boston College Law School