Rev. Dr. William Barber II On Poverty, The Pandemic And The Protests
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has been using his faith to fight for change long before the pandemic or this series of protests.
He previously joined us to talk about his revival of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign.
And Rev. Dr. Barber recently spoke to People about the killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
America is going to really have to wrestle with two questions: One, what does it say when a black man can be downtown and end up choked to death by a cop? The second thing is, that in this moment, while racism is certainly [tied] to George Floyd, and his death, we cannot forget the policies that kill people every day as well.
What I mean by that is, there are thousands who die from the lack of health care. Thousands who die from poverty. Thousands who die from ecological destruction. Many of them are African American and brown people. They die just the same. They just die slower [than George Floyd] and we don’t see the crushing [weight] of policy violence on their necks. If we’re going to deal with racism, we cannot be a society that just talks about racism when somebody is shot or somebody has a knee on their neck. Then we talk about it a little while and it goes on. We must look at racism and classism. Somebody asked me, “Is it race or class?” I said, “It is.”
As activists and pundits say it’s time for change, how does Barber envision it? And how can we all take part?
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