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Updated: May 24, 2021 From the Editor

In the year since George Floyd’s murder

The aftermath of the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, on May 25, 2020, brought pledges from Central Massachusetts business leaders to work to address institutional racism in society, as well as examine their own cultures relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

A year later, some of those pledges turned out to be just talk of the moment, others yielded some surface-level examinations, while the rest began the hard work of creating foundational, lasting change. Progress has been slow, but more than 400 years of institutional racism in America were never going to be fixed in one year anway. A lasting legacy to this point from Floyd’s murder has been the level of public consciousness about institutional racism has been raised, and people are more freely discussing the problems and solutions.

WBJ was one of those many Central Massachusetts companies who made a pledge in the month following Floyd’s murder, when Publisher Peter Stanton and I released a letter saying one of the foundational beliefs of WBJ is the Central Massachusetts economy best thrives when all its people are given equal rights and opportunities, in order to best use their talents to serve the community. In the year since, we’ve tried to elevate the voices of more people of color in WBJ’s content, celebrate diversity & inclusion achievements, challenge traditional thinking, and shine a light on problems where they exist. Our coverage has hardly been transformative, but I feel we are on the right path and heading toward a better future.

The two in-depth Rich dreams, poor dreams stories in the May 24, 2021 WBJ magazine are part of that effort, and perhaps the most ambitious racial discrimination investigation we’ve undertaken in the last year. This five-month effort, done in partnership with the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, scratches the surface as to why the institutional discrimination in the mortgage lending system has kept communities of color in a cycle of disadvantages. The problem is complex, as are the solutions. Read the two stories here: A segregated Worcester, by Monica Benevides and Economic suppression, by Grant Welker.

Floyd’s murder may turn out to be an inflection point in America’s race relations, similar to that of Rosa Parks’ refusal in 1955 to move to the back of an Alabama bus. Time and effort will bear that out. In order for that to be the case, we must remember the way we felt a year ago and the overly ambitious way we pledged to fix institutional racism, and then carry those thoughts and feelings forward in perpetuity.

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