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UNCG African American Studies director worries we won't see social equality in our lifetime

There have been marches and protests. Confederate monuments have been toppled or removed. Police have enacted new policies. But will real change happen?

GREENSBORO, N.C. — On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes. Less than 17 minutes after police responded to the scene, Floyd was unconscious, handcuffed laying on the ground while an officer kneeled on his neck.

The actions of the officer and three other officers that stood by and did nothing have sparked outrage, anger, sadness and fear. The officers have all since been arrested and charged for their role in the death of Floyd. 

In the days and weeks since the death, millions and millions of people from different races and from all around the country have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and specifically, racial inequality when it comes to Black America.

Dr. Noelle Morrissette has a Ph.D. from Yale University. She is an accomplished author and has received numerous awards for her work. Currently, Dr. Morrisette is the Director of African American and African Diaspora Studies at UNC Greensboro. WFMY News 2 spoke to the professor recently and asked her about several things including what she thinks it will take to get social equality for everyone. 

“I’m not sure that place exists on earth,” said Morrissette.

The Zoom interview also involved two former students of Morrissette’s - Tiera Moore and Stephanie Orosco. Both women have strong feelings when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement and what so many in this country are fighting for. 

“I do think that structural dismantling of the (police and justice) system is necessary to see any type of equality on any level,” said Moore.

Both Moore and Orosco said they have experienced some form of racism in their lifetime. The women have taken part in some of the marches and protests that followed the death of Floyd. 

“All of our political and social structures are set up around the concept of racial privilege that doesn’t equally afford everyone the same opportunities,” said Moore.

In the past couple of weeks, we have seen a measurable shift and some progress when it comes to racial compassion and action. Confederate monuments that weren't toppled over by protesters have been taken down by several cities across the country. Confederate flags have also been removed from businesses or banned from certain events. It is a good step forward, but all three women agree much more needs to be done. 

"I would ask for everyone to be self-reflective. I think it’s time, no matter your race or nationality, to be reflective and acknowledge the level of privilege that you have as an individual and to be an ally,” said Orosco.

Recent actions by states, cities, police departments and corporate America provide hope but Moore still questions if she will see “true equality” in her lifetime. 

“Given that it took centuries for us to establish such a system, I think it will take quite a while for us to dismantle that,” said Moore.

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