Arnold Schwarzenegger says that systemic racism in the U.S. “has to stop.”
In an opinion piece written for The Atlantic, the 72-year-old actor, bodybuilder, and 38th governor of California spoke about the need for radical reform, self-awareness, and everyday work to make America safe for Black people.
Schwarzenegger’s article follows international protests over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests have prompted a global conversation about profiling, police violence, and institutionalized racism.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has received a great deal of public support in the past week, and many politicians, celebrities, and public figures are speaking out. Some, such as Schwarzenegger, address the systemic inequality faced by Black people every day.
“Patriotism isn’t just the blind love of our flag. It is the work we do to improve our country for every American. I want the unlimited opportunity that drew me here in 1968 to exist for every American, regardless of skin color,” wrote.
While Schwarzenegger discussed his own experiences as an immigrant in the U.S., he also highlighted his own privilege. “It’s wrong, it’s unfair—and that’s why people are marching today,” he continued. “It is our duty to listen to them.”
“We can’t ignore the issues of inequality in this country,” added“No one can deny that minorities find themselves on the wrong end of our justice system in unequal numbers. No one with a heart can watch these murders and not feel deep sadness, anger, and even guilt.”
‘We Can Do Better’
During the protests themselves, police officers have received further scrutiny and criticism for their treatment of protestors and Black people in the area. In Louisville, Kentucky, police officers fired into a crowd of protestors, killing David McAtee.
Protests in Louisville have primarily focused on the recent death of local emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor, who was shot by officers when they entered her home by force.
Earlier this year, unarmed jogger
“The protesters we see in the streets don’t hate America,” wrote Schwarzenegger. “They are asking us to be better. They are asking on behalf of our fellow Americans who no longer have a voice: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others.”
Some of the protests have turned violent, which Schwarzenegger says “needs to stop now.”
Others say that conversations about violence and looting distract from the key message. Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, told the New Yorker: “why are we having this conversation about protest and property when a man’s life was extinguished before our eyes?”
According to Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans are most likely to be killed by police officers. Black Americans are also nearly three times more likely to be killed than white Americans. They are approximately 1.4 times more likely to unarmed in fatal interactions with the police.
“We can do better. We have to be willing to listen, to learn, to look in the mirror, and see that none of us is perfect,” Schwarzenegger added. “I’m ready to listen and work to make America better every day. Are you?”