Mayors: This is how you tackle racism

Camille Busette of The Brookings Institution’s Race, Prosperity and Inclusion Initiative shares 5 key strategies for creating sustained racism-free equity in your community


Protesters chant outside the Mississippi State Capitol following comments made by Petal Mayor Hal Marx regarding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The mayor tweeted that he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” in how Floyd was detained. Image: Sarah Warnock/The Clarion-Ledger via AP

By Camille Busette

While we have terms for others who have experienced trauma, in over 400 years of racism, we do not yet have a term for Black and Brown people who experience racial terrorism. This is a devastating and telling omission in our lexicon because it conveys how a majority-white society in the United States has refused to acknowledge the ongoing experience of living day in and day out in a society that was founded on the reality of working African slaves, and later African Americans, until their tendons literally snapped from their bones.

When, for nearly nine minutes, Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck on May 25, 2020, not releasing the pressure when Mr. Floyd said he could not breathe, not releasing it when bystanders cried out, nor releasing it for almost three minutes after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, the inhumane treatment and brutality upon which this nation was founded were exposed in all of their ugliness for everyone worldwide to see.

In this moment, as we reflect on just how deranged, sadistic, and yet commonplace Mr. Floyd’s murder was, mayors and governors are under pressure to respond urgently to endemic racism. Because that hasn’t been done effectively in the 400-plus years since slaves first arrived on our shores, mayors and governors are going to have to create their own blueprints.

Review Busette’s five strategies for tackling racism at the local level at

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