Statement on Racially Motivated Violence

June 4, 2020 

In the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and other incidents of racist violence against Black people, the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy supports the Black community and condemns racism and police brutality in all forms. Black people deserve to live in a society in which their full membership and rights are guaranteed, and not contingent on the actions of law enforcement officers with deeply ingrained racial biases. 

We must remember, however, that these incidents are not new: George Floyd’s killing exists in a context in which racial profiling, police violence, and other vestiges of chattel slavery and Jim Crow continue to exert their effects on Black lives. Even as the hashtags and headlines fade from public view, the existential, physical, and emotional threat of police violence remains palpable and ubiquitous for Black people, whether or not their names are mentioned in the news. 

Now is the time to speak up about violence against the Black community. Our work is not limited, however, to condemning violence: we must also work toward a future in which Black people are granted the human dignity, inclusion, and equity that they deserve. 

As researchers whose work is rooted in evidence-based policy and social justice for all marginalized people, we know that American police forces and systems of power are in need of structural reform. Though the focus of our research is on disability, we know that systems of oppression are intersectional. We must acknowledge the close relationships between systemic racism and ableism; for instance, while Black people as a whole are more likely to experience police violence, Black disabled people are even more vulnerable to these encounters. We are committed to pursuing racial and intersectional justice through our work, including our research activities, partnerships, and community outreach. Acknowledging the complex interactions between race, disability, and other sociocultural experiences is crucial to understanding how we as researchers and community members can work toward a more equitable future.