Police brutality, Black-on-Black crime and the overall systemic dehumanization of brown bodies in this country are all symptomatic of a disease that took deep root in the legacy of slavery.

This disease? Racism. Not just racial hate, white hoods and the buzzword “nigger,” but the twin problems that most define the word: White supremacy and institutional bias. Until we come to grips with these two elephants in the room, there will be no bridge in the racial divide in America. Slavery in America stripped Africans of their humanity, reducing them to three fifths of a person. Imagine the psychological trauma that had on the oppressed and the oppressor alike. Healing from this kind of trauma comes only from an honest confrontation with one’s past. Until we are willing to deal with this historical context, roll up our sleeves, reach into the dirt and pull it up from the root, we can expect this monster of a problem not only to grow but also to hamper the development and sustainability of this country for generations.

This contribution, along with others exploring the new civil rights movement, appears in ESSENCE’s special #BlackLivesMatter issue. This historic collector’s edition is available on stands January 9.


The Editor’s Letter: The Path Forward
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Angela Davis

Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Patrisse Cullors
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Isabel Wilkerson
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Chirlane McCray
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Sunny Hostin