We are shocked, horrified, and saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd—shocked, horrified and saddened all the more because his death is not an anomaly in our country, because its tragedy is compounded by the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and because we feel morally certain that there are others whose names we don’t know and whose stories we have not yet heard. History seems to be repeating itself in an awful fashion, reminding us that lynchings are not in fact restricted to the distant past and to the South. This violence occurs against the backdrop of pervasive, systematic, race-based inequalities that have rendered the bodies of people of color more vulnerable to a global pandemic not because of their genes but because of the social and economic circumstances in which they live.
Like many, we have spent recent days reflecting on these times we are living in, on New Jersey’s communities, which we love and seek to strengthen, and on the history and context that have led us to this moment and that are at the core of humanistic work. In the coming days we will be using our social media accounts to share the work of our grant-recipients who have helped to document and amplify the voices of people of color. We will also be listening and studying. We invite you to share with us and to help us learn. We are an organization that is devoted to dialogue and to inquiry, as well as to history and culture, and we want you to know that we are here, we want to hear from you, and we will continue to do our best to strengthen our communities by helping organizations tell their untold stories and by seeking to understand the contexts that produced them. We think that history and dialogue, when controlled by the oppressed, can be powerful political forces, and our organization seeks to empower those who have been too long powerless.
– The Staff of NJCH