How did you feel when you first learned of what happened to George Floyd on May 25, 2020?
I was angry and disappointed that another killing happened and specifically, that another killing happened in my backyard.
Did you view the video? If so, what emotions and thoughts did you have upon seeing the video?
I did view the video. I typically don’t look at those things (obviously, too depressing and upsetting). But this time I think I needed to really feel what had happened. I was shaken. I think all the other killings basically piled on my head, and I just broke down. I really couldn’t take the abuse (of others) anymore. As well, I was fearful because I realized that if someone could so easily and callously be killed over $20, it wasn’t about the “crime.” . . . It was about his being Black and not being seen as whole or human. That could have been my brother or one of my nephews. That was what really shook me.
How did you feel when the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced?
I felt a bit of relief, but I still didn’t think this was a bellwether of things to come. Starting from the immediate aftermath of the killing, I was so disappointed in the reactions of some of the white people around me (many of whom are no longer friends). I really felt that socially and politically, this verdict was just a drop in a very deep and empty bucket.
What actionable steps have you taken since the murder of George Floyd?
Immediately afterwards, I was not only shaken and upset but I joined in local protests and events to show my support. I worked through the organizations I belong to as a board member to guide discussion and action (example, discussions with the GM and the board of the People’s Food Co-op about hiring and retaining more employees of color, as well as purchasing from Black producers and vendors).
And maybe most importantly (at least for my own well-being), I started to speak up and not just ignore bad behavior. I let a lot of folks know what we [Black people] go through, and I let a lot of folks know that I will no longer tolerate their casual (and sometimes obvious) racism. I stopped talking to colleagues at work. I stopped answering phone calls from so-called “friends.” They don’t deserve my attention if they can’t respect me and people like me. And I’m reaching out more to other people of color in allyship. I’m listening to their stories as well. Some of their histories are similar to ours, and I’m always learning. I read some good books (by Ibram X Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Resmaa Menakem) and began to challenge my own ideas about where this country is headed and where I fit in the grand scheme of things. I’m far from perfect, but I’m also far better informed and more resilient. I feel like a much different person than I was before his murder. I’m much lighter in spirit; much more open to speaking my mind; much more militant about setting the record straight; much more willing to stand-up for myself and others.