After a week of absorbing, listening, and being astounded by the giant gap in awareness of the state of racism in our society, it is with great enthusiasm that I join the effort to do what I can to assist in the eradication of racial inequality in America.
I was taught to be color blind and thought that was enough. Until now, it seemed to me that “doing my part” regarding racism was to treat humans as humans, regardless of skin color. This week, the message from the black community is loud and clear:
- Inaction and silence on racial inequality is not enough.
- Being color blind is being disconnected and is NOT part of the solution.
Even though I may not be the “racist” that is a hater who speaks out against minorities, our society is racist. There is no escaping it, there are no “get out of racism free” cards. Being in American society means participating in a racist system. Standing by without being a real part of the solution contributes to the persistence of the system. As Edmund Burke observed “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
But I have been afraid to speak up, because I am so very white and not particularly versed on the topic. I heard many people from the community say to get educated before saying something foolish and causing more harm. So, I have spent time listening to and reading the messages, the stories, the experiences of the people of color in this country, watching videos from 2, 4, even 8 and 10 years ago talking about the state of racism in America and how it has impacted literally every black person I have ever known.
It is overwhelming. It is outrageous. Literally every white person in America can have an impact on this problem, there is an unlimited field of opportunity to improve the situation on every level, daily.
At this point, my plan of action consists of finding a way to share knowledge and experience and give a hand up to those in my community who have been held back by the systemic racial inequality in the business world.
A Word about George Floyd
I worked as a business analyst in the criminal justice system for years, examining the process and creating computer systems to support the people who carry out the day to day business of criminal arrest, prosecution, and parole. My experience taught me that each group in the system has a critical and very specific part to play in carrying out the work of enforcing our society’s laws; the judges, the lawyers, the politicians, the administrators. Just about everyone I have encountered in this system is laser focused on balancing the demands of serving justice, respecting human nature, and maintaining the rule of law, each according to their perspective and role.
The police are the boots on the ground for the entire system. They take the biggest personal beating and also have a gigantic impact on individual cases. I have tremendous respect for the vast majority of officers that take the responsibility that goes with this role seriously and who feel so strongly about doing so that they risk their lives every single day. For the officers that are motivated by doing good, it is a tremendous personal investment to face the daily tasks of being the adversary of citizens who do not abide by the law, standing as an unpopular authority figure, and foregoing the right to stand by while wrongs are being committed out in the world.
So for me, it was an eye opening experience to see the actions of the police officers who murdered a man in the street, who carried out a de-facto trial, sentencing, and execution in the space of 8 minutes. Not in the heat of a battle, not while under attack, but while onlookers begged for them to mitigate their actions, while an off duty EMT advised changing their course of action, while they were filmed in broad daylight. What set of circumstances must exist in order for police officers to act in such a manner? This question has led to many, many more. My education continues.