In response to the now worldwide protests over the death of African American George Floyd in police custody, scholars from the University of Michigan (UM) have expressed their opinions on what people and the government should do to ensure racial equality.
"What we're seeing now is bigger than anything we've experienced as a nation since the 60s, which makes me feel extremely humbled, angry and sad," said Eugene Rogers, director of choral activities and conductor of the chamber choir at the UM School of Music, Theatre and Dance. "These are emotions that a lot of people are experiencing right now: they're looking for comfort, and for concrete ways to process these events and to move forward."
"I feel that change won't happen if it doesn't start with each of us leading within our own communities. Real change begins at home and in our own places of influence. I long for the day when we have truly met Dr. (Martin Luther) King's dream for all of us," Rogers stressed.
"When police kill black Americans at twice the rate of other races, that is a disproportionate and systemic health problem that should not haphazardly be addressed," said Riana Anderson, UM assistant professor of health behavior and health education.
She said to address social determinants of health, the country needs to eliminate policies and practices that facilitate disproportionate violence against specific populations, institute robust law enforcement accountability measures, and increase investment in promoting racial and economic equity.
Muniba Saleem, an assistant professor of communication and media at UM, said that mainstream media tend to represent racial ethnic minorities in a negative light across media genres, and violent acts committed by minorities receive more media attention than violent acts committed by the dominant racial group. "Claims about discrimination are perceived as 'complaining' by the dominant group."
As "social justice messages from the dominant group garner more support than the same messages from marginalized communities," the process of seeking racial justice for marginalized members is perilous, she said.
"Protest is not something that is done instead of voting ... They are both part of the American repertoire of political participation ... addressing the same fundamental issues: inequality, vulnerability and frustration," said Christian Davenport, a professor of political science and faculty associate at UM's Institute for Social Research.
Michael Esposito, a research fellow at UM's Institute for Social Research, revealed in a study last year that black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men.
"George Floyd's homicide is evidence of deep-seated, systematic issues with how law enforcement is structured in this country," he said. "It's clear that if we'd like to see this type of structural, racialized violence end, we'll need to transform how we 'do policing.'"
Margaret Hicken, director of the UM RacismLab, said that structural racism is a self-sustaining system.
"The fact that we have witnessed continual violence ... that we as a society see this regularly and shake our heads in pity or disgust means that our society will not change," she said.