We are deeply saddened by the killing of George Floyd, the latest tragic illustration of the racial disparities in the US. And even as people march in solidarity in cities around the world, Americans’ rights to free speech and assembly are being threatened. The Social Progress Index has documented the decline of rights and inclusiveness in the world over the past six years, but events in the US and elsewhere suggest these trends may be beginning a worrying acceleration.
George Floyd’s murder comes as at a time of great fear and uncertainty, as the world is enduring the Covid-19 pandemic and facing the prospect of economic collapse. The pandemic is an impersonal killer but not an indiscriminate one. It casts light on the inequalities in our societies and in our world, disproportionately devastating society’s most vulnerable and underprivileged communities. And we fear that when it subsides, it will be those same communities who are once again left behind by efforts to rebuild.
We cannot repeat the same mistakes of the past.
Faced with the crises of pandemic disease, economic collapse, and racial injustice, we must make a choice to remake society and its systems. Education, healthcare, justice, the economy, environmental protection, and the basic frameworks of rights and freedoms—that some of us take for granted and others have never enjoyed—all these must be made more just and equitable. At the Social Progress Imperative, we are more committed than ever to change, and to a society that provides for all and affirms in practice the fundamental value and dignity of every life.