Too many Americans, along with this nation’s leaders, are on the wrong side of history as it relates to human and civil rights. A system of policing in America that is grounded in over 400 years of systemic racism and centuries of turning a blind eye to the ongoing misuse of force, such as racial profiling, racial traffic stops, using deadly force vs de-escalation techniques will require deep and drastic change. This transformation must address and include appropriate responses to social crises (mental health such as PTSD, sexual violence, addiction, poverty, etc.) by the appropriate professionals. The answer should have never been over policing.
Equal justice for all Americans has always been the true goal of Civil Rights. Unfortunately, in 2020, we are still under one system for white America and a crueler, unjust system for black America. This dual system has resulted in police departments that already operate under their own culture being even more infected by the racist virus within America. We are living under decades of lost generations of people who have suffered due to unaddressed prejudice and inequality.
The only answer is to demand that elected officials pass legislation making actions punishable by law when policy and procedures (which already exist) are not followed. In the headlines and news soundbites regarding restructuring and redeployment of resources, where are the real change reform discussions that must include criminal and civil penalties for police who brutalize anyone? If all lives matter, then so should all Black lives.
We’ve seen Americans rising to the unique needs brought on by the pandemic, especially African Americans who have been disproportionately impacted. We are also witnessing people of every background stand up, speak up and protest against racial injustice. While the seeds of hatred and inequality that were planted at the inception of our nation sprouted, grew and are intrinsically interwoven in the DNA of America, there is hope.
Is this hope just faith or optimism or have people noticed a different kind of shift in the atmosphere? Was it because of the world pausing and sitting still due to COVID-19? Could it possibly be true that the leveling results of a global pandemic was an equalizer that altered mindsets, so people finally understand that we all are part of the human race? As the pandemic swept the earth so did the awakening mindfulness of the systems that do not see black people as human. The day George Floyd died, that video of an unarmed black man being murdered started a distinctive global movement.
With the piercing of our collective consciousness, among those with a moral compass in the U.S. and the entire world, we cannot just revert to lip service. Let us have real, substantive conversations about systemic and structural racism. So many are tired of people of color raising issues that are uncomfortable for America to discuss. The only question that matters is how tired would you be if your daily existence required living in a world that ignores your humanity? When superior qualifications, proven intelligence, multiple degrees, hard work, and years of producing results are no competition to the unyielding barriers working against you, how can persons in power utter the words exhausted and tired when those suffering want to have a real discussion?
Here we are again, another shooting (Jacob Blake, 7 times in the back) another example of our two justice systems on full display. We find ourselves at another crossroads in American history that has now become a causeway to a chapter in world history. In this moment, we are starting to have the difficult conversations and people are actually starting to truly listen. This time feels different and the multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, global solidarity requires a response. All individuals, corporations, entrepreneurs, political or civic organizations that have ever positioned themselves as leaders must now answer the call that leadership requires. Get and stay involved. This time, become a transformative change agent in and outside of your organization. Commit to truly leading with purpose.