Our attention has been on more than the pandemic these past few weeks, as the nationwide protests following the murder-by-police of George Floyd continue to grow and more murders occur or are being revealed.  The work needed to eradicate systemic racism is at the forefront of our minds.  

This week’s New Yorker cover is an interactive response to the Black Lives Matter protests that depicts the face of George Floyd, and beneath the outline of his shoulders, a timeline showing the faces of the many women and men who have died in the wave of violence against the Black community.  It’s a powerful work by artist Kadir Nelson. 

NOW continues to monitor closely policing reform legislation in Congress through our participation in the Justice Reform Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Legislation proposed in the House addresses many of the problems with over-policing and police violence targeting Black persons and we will be sure to keep you apprised of important developments. 

We know that when we take action, we can effect change. We witnessed this week how the U.S. Supreme Court took a stand for freedom, justice, and equality when it ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees.  NOW Foundation was an amici in this case, which defended the rights of two employees who were fired for being gay, and another who came out as transgender. 

But even with this decision, Black LGBTQIA+ people still face disproportionate discrimination, violence and hate. We must dismantle structural racism with legislation that helps remedy centuries of inequality and also addresses cultural barriers to progress.  As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in this statement, that means pressing Mitch McConnell to move the Equality Act out of his legislative graveyard and bringing it to a swift vote. The equality act goes beyond employment and helps ALL LGBTQIA+ in regards to housing, health care, public accommodations. 

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is still upending our lives, our health, and our economy—with women bearing a disproportionate share of the burden.  A report from Care International, discussed in this article, emphasizes a point I’ve made repeatedly in these messages:  “countries with more women in leadership roles — not just as heads of state but at every level, from national crisis committees to local communities — were more likely to deliver COVID-19 responses that considered the effects of the crisis on women and girls.” 

And as we look to science to lead us out of this pandemic, this study finds that only 1 in 3 COVID-19 research authors are women, and even fewer are senior authors.  This hobbles the scope of vital research from the outset, leading to further gender inequalities.   

All of us at NOW are determined to keep our lawmakers, leaders, and opinion-makers focused on the issues that unite us in outrage and strengthen us in resolve.  In that spirit, here’s a clip from the 1963 March on Washington of the Freedom Singers performing “We Shall Not Be Moved.”