Statement on Violence at the U.S. Capitol
Next to the day the Constitution’s drafters decided to allow the enslavement of Africans brought against their will to this country and then decided to count these people as 3/5ths of a person for their enslavers’ votes, I believe yesterday was among the saddest in U.S. history. President Donald Trump again repeated proven lies throughout the day to incite violence in the nation’s capital, costing the lives of four people, disrupting the process of certifying an election that had already been deemed fair and legal, and terrorizing DC.
We cannot ignore the racism and anti-Semitism inherent in this violence. Neo-Nazis and Confederate flags were openly displayed in the breach on Capitol Hill, and the inadequate response to the violence stands in stark contrast to the disproportionate response to the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. This is a painful reflection of institutionalized racism at play and reminds us of the urgent importance of committing ourselves to the work of racial equity and to addressing all forms of hatred and bigotry.
I was pleased to see Republicans and Democrats came together across the aisle to condemn yesterday’s violence, sending an important bipartisan message. Of course, it would have been better had some of these leaders done more to push back more forcefully on President Trump’s extremely divisive rhetoric and false narratives throughout his presidency, as well as to support the people working hard and ethically to count votes and ensure a free, fair and secure election.
Our Foundation has been active in working on issues of racial equity, both internally within our organization and externally in the U.S., as well as in supporting the building of infrastructure to help ensure safe and fair elections in which all citizens were encouraged and able to participate. We plan to continue to invest in efforts to protect the right to vote as a bedrock of our democracy.
I hope today we can begin a process of healing the rifts surfaced by President Trump’s words so we can again focus on dealing with the real challenges the U.S. faces of unequal access to resources and opportunities, rather than focusing on made-up challenges about voter fraud. Much work remains to be done to address the underlying causes of what we saw yesterday, including racism and anti-Semitism. I look forward to doing our part and hope to see more philanthropists and elected leaders step up in this work.