As our country collectively shudders at this most recent in a series of racial flash points – the very public and cruel execution by Minneapolis police of yet another black person, George Floyd – it is easy to turn away and surrender to a feeling of hopelessness and the belief that the cycle of systemic oppression and discrimination followed by public protests and promises of reform, is destined to repeat. This would be a mistake.
Fighting Systemic Racism
In his last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Rev. King made clear that the only way to overcome the legacy of slavery and racism in the U.S. is to never lose sight of it, and to recommit daily in our words and deeds to eradicating its roots in our society no matter how pervasive or seemingly intractable. As America reels from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and racial disparities it has so starkly laid bare, we must seize this tragic moment to once again recommit to actively building community and simultaneously to fighting entrenched, systemic racism and economic inequality.
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The commitment to racial justice lies at the cornerstone of ICCR’s founding when faith investors joined forces fifty years ago to help drive the apartheid regime out of South Africa. As faith investors we are accustomed to making the moral case for corporate action on issues of social justice. But our advocacy as investors cannot end there: we must also look inward and commit to examine and address systemic racism and inequality within our own field, in our portfolios, and in the way we do our work.
In 1971, ICCR was a small group, but today the responsible investment community has a broader and more powerful platform to support the Movement for Black Lives and racial and economic justice. ICCR members and other concerned investors are already convening to develop strategies in this work and we urge all interested investors to join us.
We denounce the militarization of our police and the callous response to protests by the current administration, which seek to sow division and chaos. We stand with – and kneel with - the black community and all those who are raising their voices in unison to unequivocally denounce ongoing police brutality that clearly targets black people.
Our ICCR community must stand together for a society where people of color are not subject to state-sanctioned violence, and work with renewed commitment and purpose to address entrenched economic systems that perpetuate institutional racism.