April 26, 2008
My name is Lenora Fulani and I represent hundreds of thousands of independent New Yorkers – black, white, Latino and Asian – who believe in fairness and justice for all people. We are deeply saddened and angry over yesterday’s verdict in the Sean Bell case.
There has been progress in this city, under the firm leadership of Rev. Al Sharpton, with respect to issues of racial justice. His voice has been passionate and consistent. He has done more to take us out of extreme polarization and recurrent racial violence than he is ever given credit for. But, as the verdict in the Bell case shows, there is much more to do.
Even as we give expression to our rage – through civil disobedience and other actions Rev. Sharpton calls for – we must continue all efforts for the fundamental cultural changes required to eliminate the racialism that permeates our institutions.
No police department, no judge, no court of public opinion, will be fair until we can bring about the cultural and human development that takes us beyond race-based biases that are deeply rooted in them. This is a painful truth for the black community and for all who seek justice. But we must face it and act accordingly. Even as we follow Rev. Sharpton’s lead in protest, we must be sure to keep our eye on the long term prize.