Last week George Floyd was killed in a sequence of events that never would have happened to a white person. This has erupted the community here in Minneapolis, the rest of the United States, and around the globe! I’ve struggled to come up with the words to speak to the racial challenges that we are confronting. I find it difficult to express the sadness, anxiety, fear, and a little bit of hope for change that I feel. I also recognize that silence is a form of speech too, and there is an implicit endorsement of the status quo in silence. I want to see change. I want to help make that change happen. Sparing more elegant writing, let me share these fragments.

  • I’m incredibly saddened by what happened to Mr. Floyd. It was so wrong and so senseless. Like all of the racially motivated killings that have preceded his.
  • I want to work to make sure that the pain of the last few days is not lost. We cannot return to the same systems of injustice and bias that we’ve had. It would be devastating to not move to a better place after what we have been through over the last few days.
  • I feel that I’m seeing this disparity in a different, more profound way. That is a good thing. It’s compelling me to walk down a path of discovery and learning to better understand the challenges people of color are dealing with every day.
  • I want to engage in conversation on this and hear from friends and colleagues. I need to listen. I need to understand. I’ve been blessed to have some black men as friends, and we have had some dialogue on this. Those discussions have been incredibly helpful, as well as highlighted for me the massive gap in understanding in front of me. I would like more of this.
  • I need to be vulnerable in this dialog in a way that is very uncomfortable for me. That is my challenge to deal with.
  • We must acknowledge that the pandemic has ripped open the socioeconomic disparity in our country. While many stand in food lines and have seen their entire world shaken to the foundation, others sit in bespoke home offices working remotely and enjoying not having a commute. Many have been put in a position where they feel like they have nothing to lose.
  • I need to be more aware of the immense privilege being a white man has bestowed on me. I long ago acknowledged that luck is absolutely part of where I am today, but I’ve not thought deeply enough about the starting place that I had in life being a white man.
  • I want to use my leadership in the communities that I’m part of to help us get to a better place.

I know that to make progress as a person, and as a member of my community, I need to go through the process. Acknowledging is the first step, and yes, I acknowledge the intense racial divide in our country. The events of the last few days have seared that deeper into my understanding than ever before. I need to seek to build understanding, create empathy, and know where to take action and focus efforts. I want to jump to that last part, taking action, but I cannot short circuit the process.