Sustainable Justice

How can it be achieved?

Jacques-A. Gerber


Photo by author on Nevermoond

It’s been a tough year for social justice.

More young Black men and women have been murdered by White policemen, who barely risk suspension. Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are only two of so many that entire websites are dedicated to keeping track of them. And yes, White folks have been shot by police too, but nowhere near the same proportion, and at a declining rate, unlike all others.

This same year, great historical figures dedicating their lives to support those left behind have sadly passed: Joseph Lowery on March 27, John Lewis on July 17, Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, and many more I am sorry to have missed.

It’s been a tough year.

I thought America had finally turned the page of its soul-wrecking Civil War when a Black man got elected US President in 2008. I expected a woman would succeed him, but instead I discovered the Ku Klux Klan was still alive and little progress seemed to have truly been made since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Why is that? How can lasting changes be brought to society to fulfill the promise of equal justice for all?

Surely there has been some progress and there are many inspiring Black people who have demonstrated that success was possible in all areas, not only in sports and entertainment but also in science, business, politics, etc. However, we can’t miss that these “winners” are not only exceptions, but they were forced to obey White privilege rules every step of the way.

To succeed and reach full potential, Black men and women (even more so) are not allowed to make any mistakes, at any time. For instance, in her rightly acclaimed “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents”, Isabel Wilkerson relates the story of a Black man who shaves and puts on a suit and a tie just to go get some milk at his local deli. No human can be perfect at all times. Perfection is not human. But perfection is expected if you are Black and want to have a chance.

Another change has happened in the last few decades as society seemed to open new opportunities for all: the White middle-class has stopped getting richer. Many White folks fell out of the middle-class to become poor or extremely poor. Perhaps nowhere is this…