On the tragic death of George Floyd and confronting systemic racism

We wanted to share our thoughts on the events of the past week.

We talked as a team about what we wanted to say. We discussed whether we felt we had a particularly profound new insight to share. Honestly, we weren’t sure if we did. Or even if we could come up with a really unique angle or clever take, we wondered if that’s what was most needed—or, with the conversation in some places already devolving into details like whether it was left-wing or right-wing groups paying a small number of people to commit property damage during demonstrations—we wondered if just repeating the most basic truths in all of this might not be better. Either way, we believed this was just one of those moments where, as Dr. King said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

So, trying our best to not be the bad people, nor be part of the tragedy as the silent good, we thought that a good first step would be that at the very least we use our voice to just help reinforce what we believe ought to be obvious:

    • What happened to George Floyd is a heart wrenching travesty.

    • This incident is just one in a far too long list in which black people and other people of color have been unjustly killed or brutalized (the world is now aware of more of these incidents because more of them are captured on video, but many other events such as this occur in the shadows and have been for many, many years).

    • There is institutionalized racism in our criminal justice system. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, but has nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners. The majority of those imprisoned Americans are people of color.

    • This is related to broader institutionalized racism in other aspects of society—from inequities in public education to systemic economic obstacles to lack of health care access that is now leading to people of color to die from coronavirus at much higher rates than white people.

  • Aggressive and swift action must be continually taken to address police brutality, to reform our criminal justice system, and address the systemic racism at the root of all of these issues. All of us have a role to play in creating change.

We don’t think any of that is anything that hasn’t been said over the past week or in the wake of other similar travesties of justice. But we felt like there was a moral imperative for us to try to say them out loud today as best we could anyway.

We also wanted to look for and share ideas for taking action too:

      • Donate:
      • Volunteer: you can volunteer with many of the organizations listed above. Additional actions from the NAACP can be found here. You can search for local ACLU events by clicking this link.
      • Protest, and know your First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful protest when you do: the ACLU’s Know Your Rights resource guide explains how your rights to free speech and peaceable assembly apply in various situations from on-campus demonstrations to how to record police conduct and many more resources (if protesting, as with being around any large group of people these days, it is advisable to wear a mask for the protection of yourself and for others, and to practice social distancing to the extent possible)
      • Continue learning: especially for those of us seeking to be good supporters and allies, learning more about the history and interconnectedness of the symptoms of system racism, providing more knowledge and more power. Here is a reading list by Ibram X. Kendi, author of award-winning best sellers like How to be an Antiracist and STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You.
      • Call your elected leaders and encourage them to address police brutality, criminal justice reform, and root causes of systemic racism: find your national and local legislators contact info (while calling Congress is important, don’t overlook your local mayor and city councilors—they can likely make a more immediate impact on police force policies and culture)
      • Speak out about injustice and racism: talk with friends and family and coworkers, post on social media, and encourage leaders such as company executives, pastors, professors, and other community and organizational leaders to start and continue dialogue on these issues.

Travesties like these are so heartbreaking. Sometimes it can all feel demoralizing. But people like you, people who are conscious of how the decisions they make impact other people and the planet, and who try hard to ensure their actions contribute to healing a suffering world, help us keep our resolve. We believe in another oft-sited Dr. King quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That is definitely true—as long as we all keep speaking out, and stay determined to grab the arc and pull it as best we can.

Thank you for helping to keep us inspired. We’re even more grateful than usual today that you’re here with us.


    The DoneGood Team

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