In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

Louisiana can never reach its full potential as long as many of our Black brothers and sisters remain targets because of the color of their skin. We cannot thrive as long as racism continues to permeate our institutions and our policies, and Louisianans of color face agressions in their daily lives. Our economy cannot heal until Black and brown Louisianans fully share the freedoms and opportunities that others take for granted.  

The Louisiana Budget Project stands with those who protest the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Alton Sterling, and the countless others whose names we’ll never know. We join all those who are demanding justice by holding systems and perpetrators accountable for the horrific crimes we’ve all witnessed. 

The killing of George Floyd was the spark, but the fires now burning in our country are the result of centuries of institutional racism. It is past time that we see this racism as something more than personal moral failure, but as a public policy crisis that affects our health, economic, education, housing and criminal justice systems.

The Louisiana Budget Project has always been dedicated to seeking equity and justice through public policy so that every citizen has a fair chance to thrive. Our grotesque disparities in wealth, health and economic opportunity are the result of explicit policy choices, and it is in our power to change those policies. 

Dismantling institutional racism means crafting a budget and tax structure where the wealthy pay their fair share so investments can be made in the things that build a fair economy – access to good schools, safe and affordable housing, and reliable transportation. It means breaking the school-to-prison pipeline that has made Louisiana the world’s leading incarcerator, and ensuring that the right to vote is protected for everyone. It means making sure all Louisianans, regardless of their citizenship status, have access to affordable health care and the conditions that ensure good health, such as healthy food and neighborhoods free from pollution. 

The stakes are high. We live in a nation where peaceful protesters were tear-gassed so that the president could stage a photo op in a church where he doesn’t worship. A country where racism has been a tool used to shift power and resources from working people to moneyed elites. The path forward must acknowledge these injustices, so we can begin building a society and an economy that works for everyone. #BlackLivesMatter

Jan Moller, Executive Director