President Joe Biden is using today’s second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder to sign executive orders on police reform. From criminal justice to business opportunities to diversity, Black leaders cite a mixed bag in advancing racial equity.
After Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, solidarity statements and pledges to take action came from a range of institutions. P.J. Hill, vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said there’s been progress – but not enough follow-through to help Black businesses and smaller nonprofits navigate new investments and grants.
“There’s so much red tape to go through that it makes people fatigued,” he said, “and then the money is just too slow.”
A recent milestone is the opening of Minnesota’s first-ever Black-owned bank. But researchers suggest a long road ahead in reducing economic disparities. The Brookings Institution pegs the U.S. racial wealth gap at $10 trillion. Meanwhile, Biden’s action received praise from civil-rights groups, but they have noted that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act still awaits final approval in Congress.
Hill encouraged allies in the white community to keep looking inward – to reflect on their own unconscious bias and spark conversations within their networks. He said that urgency can’t be allowed to dissipate in the days after a tragedy.
“What about after the news cycle? Continue to make that investment, continue to have that same fire, which is tough for us all to do,” he said, “but I think it’s going to take a concerted effort on all of our parts to really make the change that we would like to see.”
In the Fargo-Moorhead area, Cani Aiden, who assists immigrant communities as community liaison officer at the Afro American Development Association, said the region expressed a supportive tone after Floyd’s death. But he noted that hate crimes still cloud the issue, and a lack of diversity in local institutions is glaring.
“For example, the city that I live [in] now, when you see the employees, it’s not totally diverse,” he said. “I want to see diverse people, people working together.”