08 Jun 2020 Time for Equal Justice Under the Law
As managing partner in what is effectively a small business serving the public, I always consider carefully when and how much to post about politics or controversies that are outside the purview of our firm. Our IFLG team is devoted to helping people who are building their families through surrogacy, IVF, egg donation or other forms of assisted reproduction, and it is never our intention to exclude or alienate any of our clients. Today, however, I feel no such hesitation in commenting on the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide demonstrations calling for equal justice under the law.
The silence that has contributed to where we are as a society (mirrored in the silence of the three officers who stood by as George Floyd’s life passed) must end.
I’m struck by the irony of the fear across the country—especially in Los Angeles where I live, on the streets around Fairfax and Melrose where I spent many years, seeing the boarded-up businesses that are trying to protect their stores from the damage and looting that has accompanied many of the protests.
Granted, I don’t approve of the violence, but I do understand the rage. And I wonder if all those who are afraid for their safety and for their storefronts today realize that the fear they are experiencing now, temporarily, is nothing, compared to the decades of fear from police brutality experienced by black Americans, fueled by the vastness and depth of racism that still runs through our country. I wonder if those property owners think about how grotesque it is for our taxpayer-funded civil safety servants (police, sheriffs, etc.) to allow the hiring of officers who would strut, flaunt and abuse their power of position rather than hiring the officers the public deserves: Officers who are committed to protecting and CARING for their communities.
Those of us who remain safe in the relative privilege of our skin color must speak up; we must not be silent, or else we are nothing better than a collective knee on the throat of those we oppress in this society.
In talking to one of my closest black friends recently, I realized there also has been silence on the other side. Our black friends also have stayed silent, to protect our feelings, to protect our friendships, or because they figured it wouldn’t make any difference anyway—or maybe because they are simply tired of having to explain.
I just learned from my friend that she was handcuffed in her own driveway… pulled over while taking her kids to school… because her car matched the description of another car reported to be involved in criminal activity in the area. Then she told me that was the third time in her life she’d been pulled over and given the same reason, that “her car matched the description of another car.” (For the record, I have never been pulled over, for any such reason.)
To me, it seems nearly unbelievable that this happens… yet it does happen, all too often. The fact that racial profiling by law enforcement continues today, along with the fact that our black friends, for whatever reasons, do not feel comfortable sharing these daily violations with us, illustrates a deep-seeded distrust and lack of respect that must be rooted out and addressed before any true recovery and reform can take hold.
Clearly, we could all use more love and tolerance toward our fellow humans. And we have learned from the past that the simple act of passing a law or enforcing a rule does not miraculously change hearts and minds. But we also know that fair laws and equitable justice will pull the norms of society, and the hearts and minds of individuals, along with them, in time. And that is where we have to start.
What we need now are government and police that have earned our trust and respect and that truly serve and protect the people—not government and police that thump their chests and demand attention because of their positions of authority. As a society, we’ve lost trust in these systems of government and law, and, just like in a relationship, when you lose someone’s trust… it takes a lot of hard work to earn it back. It seems to me that’s where we are.
At IFLG, we have always stood up for everyone’s right to have a family. We stand for procreative rights and the right to have a family all across the world, across all cultures, and for every person, straight, single, or LGBTQIA+. Standing up for people’s rights is the right thing to do, it is the moral thing to do, and we stand with all those who support permanent societal and social justice reforms.
While we all hope the streets will be quieter by November, we must not be lulled into thinking the problems are solved. When I cast my vote, I will be thinking of my black friend and of George Floyd and of all the generations of black men and women who have lived in fear for so long. I hope you will remember them, too.
Black Lives Matter.