Mourning Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Mourning Alton Sterling and Philando Castile


By:  Senator Jeff Merkley

The ubiquity of video cameras today has shown the rest of the country what African Americans have always known: that with shocking and horrifying regularity, African-American men and boys are the victims of the police—the very people charged with keeping all of us safe.

I don’t know what it’s like to be fearful for my life during a traffic stop by law enforcement. Unacceptably, this is the everyday reality of black Americans in our nation. And while I will never know firsthand this experience, I stand with communities of color and demand that those who swear to uphold our laws protect and serve all in America equally, and that they are held accountable when they don’t.

We also must realize that this is not just a police problem. It is an America problem.

We need to come to terms with our nation’s long history of racism and the many, many ways it continues to permeate nearly every aspect of our society.

Our country has made significant progress from the worst days of Jim Crow, we have elected an African-American president to two terms, but there’s an enormous difference between progress and success. That difference is measured in black lives cut short, in the resegregation of our schools, in health disparities, in housing patterns, in drop-out rates, in incarceration rates.

We will not end the scourge of racism until we understand that racism is not just Bull Connor and firehoses and dogs. We’ll never solve a problem we don’t admit we have.