We have been living through—and helping one another through—deeply troubled times. Yesterday, the lack of responsible, coordinated national leadership on the pandemic resulted in a tragic new record for deaths—over 4,000 lives lost in a single day.
That milestone was overshadowed by the chaos of the day before, when Trump instigated an attempted coup by white supremacists, who hoped to trash our votes and our democratic processes as they stormed the Capitol armed with weapons and hate.
Even more troubling was the appalling double standard between the response to Wednesday’s insurrection and that to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. We cannot doubt that had Black and brown protestors attempted to enter the Capitol by force on Wednesday, we would still be counting the bodies today.
We who have witnessed the loss of life and great suffering inflicted by racist policing in the Chicago area—from the murder of Laquan McDonald to the more recent outrage against Anjanette Young—were forced to witness this injustice on display in the very seat of our democracy.
As we join our voices together with the growing chorus across the country calling for the immediate removal of Donald Trump, we must also demand prompt and comprehensive action to address the deeply rooted racism in those institutions charged with protecting the public safety and safeguarding our democracy.
At this solemn moment, it’s also crucial that we keep in mind that the actions of these violent white supremacists were acts of desperation. As they travelled to our nation’s capital in an attempt to desecrate our democracy, millions of voters of all races elected Georgia’s first Black senator and gave Democrats back control of the Senate.
The white supremacists who violently entered the Capitol building did not win, nor did those who attempted to obstruct the vote in Georgia. On January 20th, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as our new President and Vice President, and they will have a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate to work with—fulfilling the will of American voters. This new leadership comes not a day too soon to those of us who have the most to lose, and who have already lost so much, to the pandemic. As workers on the frontlines, we have a lot of guidance to share on the resources and policies needed to curb the path of COVID-19—and we now have national leadership who will listen.
We still must continue to lift our voices to call for the removal of Trump and urgently-needed reform of policing across the country, but we must also prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead. We have been giving our all to save lives on the frontlines of this pandemic—now we must share our experiences and insights as essential workers to secure the resources and the voice we need to safeguard ourselves, our families and those we care for.
The new administration and new majorities in Congress give us the opportunity to move forward toward a more just, inclusive America, where every worker is respected, protected, and paid fair wages. Together, we can take on corporate power and structural racism, and fight for an economy that works for working people, and build a multi-racial democracy where all of us can fully, safely participate.