The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island are heartbroken and angered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis last week. We stand with the Black community and all communities in mourning the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and countless others who have lost their lives simply because of the pervasive racism in our nation. We are committed to standing together with them to fight against unequal justice in our country and state.
Manifestations of racism are sometimes intentional though they are often systemic and disguised. From housing availability and practices, access, and quality of education, to health outcomes, sentencing practices, and other policies, our state is not immune to the institutional racism and disparate opportunities for White people and people of color.
We support the Black community and will follow their lead in joining the fight against institutional and individual racism, which continue to traumatize and devalue the lives of people of color in America. While we abhor the violence we have seen at some protests — both by protestors and by those with other agendas — we will not let that distract us from the fact that systemic racism is the true issue at hand.
We commit to addressing racism within ourselves, our institutions, and our communities. We commit to strengthening our relationships with other communities. We commit to following the lead of communities directly affected. We commit to examining and processing our own histories and actions around racism and inclusion. We commit to continuing the fight for justice and to collaborate to ensure it is justice for all.
As Pirkei Avot teaches, “The day is short, the work is great. You are not expected to finish the work, but you are not free to desist.” Now is not the time to sit idly by. We will provide updates in the coming days on activities we are undertaking and those our partners are requesting our support in.
Educate yourselves (see below); show support for those communities directly affected; most importantly, stand up and commit to change.
While there are a multitude of powerful resources, we want to lift up some recommended places to begin:
• The 1619 Project (The New York Times)
• How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
• How to Raise a Black Son in America by Clint Smith (TED Talk)
• Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
• The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (and Study Guide and Call to Action)
• Film: 13th (Ava DuVernay) – Netflix
• The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
• Underneath the Melting Pot: On the tragic disposability of black life and the need for a new American metaphor by Jason Purnell
We stand together against hatred and violence in all of its forms; we are drawn together for the purpose of peace.
President & CEO, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Rabbi Barry Dolinger
President, Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island
Chair of the Board, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island