Individual Accountability and Systemic Justice

Reflecting on the Jury's Verdict in the Murder of George Floyd

On Wednesday, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin found him guilty on all counts for the murder of George Floyd. The news was greeted with expressions of relief that the right decision had been made.  And yet, just moments before this news broke, police in Ohio fatally shot a 16-year old girl, Ma'Khia Bryant . The awful juxtaposition of these events very clearly illustrates how one instance of individual accountability will not, and cannot, end the racism and violence faced by people of color in this country. This point is underlined by the recent police killing of Adam Toledo, a 13 yr old boy in Chicago on March 29th, Daunte Wright on April 11th in Minnesota, and other Black and Brown lives whose cases do not meet national headlines. These successive killings take a deep emotional, psychological, and physical toll on our students, faculty and community members of color, and we stand beside them in acknowledging this additional burden.

At the Blum Center, a core part of our mission is to highlight the need for structural and institutional, as well as individual-level accountability and change. Locally, steps are being taken to activate needed change thanks to the organizing efforts led by such groups as Healing Justice Santa Barbara, El Centro, and others. Earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that declared racism a public health emergency in Santa Barbara County in a meeting where community leaders, such as Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, President of the Santa Maria/Lompoc NAACP, amplified the need for the resolution, in a powerful reminder that we are all called to be informed about the systemic injustices people of color face, and to support efforts to create a more just, secure, and inclusive community here in Santa Barbara and across this country.

In solidarity,

The Blum Center Team