Tommy Bellaire is a long-term Network intern. He shared these reflections from Sunday’s vigil for victims of systemic racism.
As a white man who grew up in Winchester, I have been sheltered from and ignorant of much of the systemic injustice that exists in America. These past few weeks, egregiously racist videos circulating on Twitter and other social media platforms have illuminated to us all the depths and pervasiveness of systemic racism. After watching these videos—along with witnessing the lack of accountability of the police, of the government, and of ourselves in these injustices—I have felt unconfident that we can be a just society.
Yesterday, the seventh, that changed a little. It was moving to see so many people kneeling in front of the Unitarian Church with lit candles. It was moving to see so many people express their sympathy, support, and solidarity for George Floyd and other victims of systemic racism. To see that many people show their support, it gave me hope for the future of our country, and our community.
However, this vigil must act as the start, not the end, of our progress. We need to not just acknowledge the damage caused by systemic racism but also dismantle the structures that allowed it in the first place. The Network, Temple Shir Tikvah, and The Winchester Unitarian Society are starting this important work by hosting a conversation about racism on Zoom for all ages on Thursday, June 11, from 8-9:30 PM. It is the first in a three-part series.
We need to be proactively anti-racist. We need to vote in officials who recognize and work to prevent injustice. We need to make Winchester a more economically accessible place to live. We need to hold our police, our politicians, our fellow community members, and ourselves accountable. We need to add the METCO program to Winchester Public Schools to increase access for people of color to gain a quality education. We need to have a mascot for our schools that does not demean and objectify people. We need to work to ensure that there is injustice no longer.