Skip to main content

Reflections on Social Justice for George Floyd

June 04, 2020
Ron Manderscheid
By Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director, NACBHDD and NARMH
Read More
The opinions expressed by Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Learning Network bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the publication.

George Floyd should be alive right now. He did not deserve to die! He should not have been subjected to the abject cruelty and abandoned concern demonstrated by the four policemen who accosted him. Never!

We remain transfixed on those agonizing 9 1/2 minutes. Every second is emblematic of the chasms in American society that continue to fester and grow: powerful vs. weak; rich vs. poor; white vs. minority; healthy vs. disabled; unconcerned vs. justice-seeking.  We continue to fear: Are these chasms corroding and destroying the very fabric of our society?

And these seconds instantly reignite some of the darkest pages in our human history. So, we ask ourselves, where must we go from here? Where must we go?

Our young have provided their answer. They have gone to the streets to mourn George Floyd and demonstrate that black lives do matter, much as their elders did in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. From New York to Los Angeles, and throughout the land, our young have taken up the gauntlet for a society that actually rekindles our declaration’s hope for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Where will we find our own answer? Like our young, we must commit to take action. Good thoughts simply are not adequate today.

In our personal lives, we must take every action possible to bridge the chasms that separate and divide us from our families, neighbors, co-workers, and even those who are mostly “socially invisible” to us, yet who provide essential services for us every day. Social invisibility does promote division and distrust.

In our public lives, we must insist that social justice be addressed in all policies and procedures at all level of government. This will require that we actually testify, advocate and even demonstrate, if necessary, to demand social equality. It will require that we create and lead coalitions, and even build a national movement toward social justice.

In our professional lives, our interactions always must reflect the values of social justice every single day, whether they be with colleagues in our own organization, business associates, students, or clients.

When the history is written of American society in this era, the measure will be how well our society did treat those who need our support most—including our young, our elderly, our disabled, and those who are poor and disenfranchised. Today, we would fare very poorly on this measure. Tomorrow, we must do much better.

George Floyd deserves our full commitment today to that better future tomorrow. No exceptions!

Back to Top