As our region and the country grapples with the death of George Floyd, we have witnessed protesters stand together demanding action. This country was built on the ideals of free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom from oppression. We all must act now to dismantle long-standing cultures of systemic racism, white bias, oppression and supremacy.
As a white male I cannot begin to know the pain and suffering that so many have faced. However, to those of you affected by this I want you to know this: I hear you, I see you, I feel you, I am here for you, and I stand with you.
My heart aches and I am angry.
On the evening of May 29th, as riots broke out in the city of Atlanta Georgia, a well-known and highly regarded rapper made a speech. It was televised live and was a message to protesters. What he said resonated with me, and I hope it will with you too. Here are a few excerpts of what he said.
--- …(so) here we are, 80 years later. I watched a white (police) officer assassinate a black man, and I know that tore your heart out. I know it’s crippling, and I have nothing positive to say in this moment because I don’t want to be here. But, I’m responsible to be here because it wasn’t just Doctor King and people dressed nicely who marched and protested to progress this city and so many other cities. It was people like my grandmother, people like my aunts and uncles, who are members of the SCLC and NAACP.
…I’m duty bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization. Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize. It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs.
…I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw. And, we watch it like murder porn over and over again…It is the responsibility of us to make this better right now…We don’t want to see Targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground. ---
DASH is an organization built on the values of community and the beauty of diversity. We are a family. Now is a time for unity and resolve. We must step up to support each other, fight for each other, and protect each other. As the leader of this organization I want you to know that I do not and will not ever support any ideals that promote division, discrimination or racism. I have never and will never stand for it. I am not perfect; I don’t have all the answers. But what I do know is that we must actively work together to ensure our organization is completely free from discrimination and oppression.
With all of this uncertainty you may find things weighing on you, or they may feel as too much to bear. Remember that we have resources if you need them. Be it a fellow team member, a supervisor, Human Resources, or any of our outside programs, I encourage you to reach out to each other or our HR team. Our HR team can connect you with free programs offering services such as confidential counseling, mindfulness webinars and tips for reducing stress.
Be proud of who you are. Stand up for yourself and for each other. We are here with you.
Be Safe and God Bless.