February is Black History Month. It’s the month when we bear witness to the culture of Black America in a blighted past and look ahead to a brighter future without senseless violence and systemic racism.
In the aftermath of a turbulent year that saw the death of George Floyd, a Black man and a father of two from Minnesota, at the hands of a white police officer, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted.
Fear lingers in the Black community that little has changed in the intervening months and that the violence will continue unabated.
An example of this happened Tuesday when a 9-year old Black girl was pepper sprayed by a white police officer when she resisted attempts to calm her down. This incident offers support for those fears that change is still far off.
And there is the mounting evidence that the Black community suffers the painful consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic more than other communities, not because of race, but because of social conditions of poverty and the lack of access to adequate health care services.
But there is also reason for hope — the past year has also seen the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman and the first African-American, elected vice president of the United States.
Black History Month in 2021 ought to be a time for thoughtful minds to prevail. It is not a time for partisans to stick their heads in the sand and pretend what is there is not there. Historically, the immediate consequence of a pandemic is that it changes the way we think. This month can be the inspiration we need to reflect on the transgressions of the past and the hope for change the future can bring.