In light of the current state of affairs in our city and country, I feel the need to communicate what I’m feeling in both my heart and my head.
Some might say it would be safer to simply not communicate in such a volatile scenario. Maybe they would be right. I am a 40-year old white male from New England. A father. A husband. A citizen of the United States.
But not communicating would be wrong.
I have two small children, and this Earth, society, and country is what they will grow to inherit.
I am a small business owner in Boston. New England Design & Construction is a business I’ve built from scratch over 15 years in the city that I love. My staff and our clients are of diverse ethnicity — of striking similarity to the City of Boston we call home.
The past few weeks have been an utter challenge to process.
I’ve watched Boston come to a standstill. The world bound to their homes with mounting anxiety for its future. I have felt it.
My team and I have worked hard — we honor and love our community, as well as its people and families.
I am proud of the work we’ve done to help others, including delivering educational kits to families in lockdown for their children. We’ve also designed, donated, and installed a shower in the home of a Boston doctor so she can protect her family while treating those with COVID-19.
And then I watched a Black man lose his life in Minneapolis at the hands of an impassive, cold, seemingly inhuman white policeman. A handcuffed black man, face down on the pavement with three policemen kneeling on him…while yet another looked on.
My soul froze.
I could not believe what I was seeing. I’ve replayed the scenario in my head multiple times since.
What would I have done? What could I have done? Placed the cop under citizen’s arrest? Called the police myself…on the police? Tackled the policeman? How does one stand there and watch a man die?
Visceral, traumatic, and horrifying.
This to an extent is what we as a majority white nation collectively have been doing since our initial arrival 400 years ago. It continued on through what would become the American Colonies and later the inception of our country in 1776.
The values of the United States
The ideals of our nation are beautiful, unique, and powerful in this world. Our Constitution was written in a crucible valuing religious and individual freedom that was unprecedented and would set an example for the world for the coming centuries. I honestly believe that our Constitution, now more than ever, and the actual ideals as laid out by our Founding Fathers in its purity, represent a fundamental vision and hope for humanity and this world.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
But it’s time to truly live up to these words as a nation — in action, legislation, community, and truth.
Systematic racism in the United States
There is a fundamental and unavoidable truth here: systemic racism and injustice has never been fully acknowledged, confronted, and effectively addressed in the 400 years since the advent of the American Colonies and its transition into these United States. This poison must truly end here.
I feel we have come to a turning point; a genuine watershed moment. Life will never be as it was previously in America. And frankly, it should never be allowed to return to our previous state. The social veneer has been shattered in so many ways with ugly truths laid bare.
Protests and collective action
Protests have gripped every major city in the U.S. over the past week and a half, including Boston.
I feel this.
Yet in this chaos and turmoil I see the hope of solidarity and an equitable future. Police kneeling with protesters in Boston, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. “Black Lives Matter” painted on the streets in D.C. so large you can see it from space.
Watching this put tears in my eyes. I cried tears of rage, frustration, empathy, and a host of emotions that I could not clearly identify… but looking further, I also feel hope.
It’s time to listen. Time to process, understand, come together with communication, compassion, and empathy to heal as humanity.
But most of all — it’s time to act.
We know what is right. Every child is born with this innate understanding of the worth of other life and of another person’s value, worth, and dreams.
Frankly, I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers. I do not. Like many, I’m learning and understanding more each day.
But this is where my instincts, heart, and mind take me.
Actions to support our community
- Sign petitions at the State and Federal Level to bring actual Justice to the four policeman involved in the murder of George Floyd. They have now been charged, and must be tried. Justice must be carried through in full.
- Support Black-owned businesses in your City. Starting today. They need it, especially in these extremely tense economic times. Many of these restaurants are currently open for take-out:
- Donate to a meaningful cause:
- This is the GoFundMe account for George Flloyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna. https://www.gofundme.com/f/gianna-floyd-daughter-of-george-floyd-fund
- Support proposed police reform legislation. Support petitions which call for the immediate review of all existing police records and the dismissal of existing policemen with existing poor conduct records and repeat infractions/offenses that have been glossed over or ignored. This will be the vast minority, but they do exist.
- Lend your voice to confront and address the American criminal justice system. This is the Equal Justice Initiative led by Bryan Stevenson: www.eji.org
- Show respect, value, support, and love to the many beautiful members of our City and State Police who actually are men and women of goodwill and put their lives on the line to protect and serve. These are the ones kneeling, the ones communicating, the ones helping the community during these times. Those who truly do protect and serve.
- Advocate for the formation of a task force at Federal Level to address and handle systemic racism and the justice system in America once and for all. Vote. Locally, and at the State and Federal levels — make your voice heard.
Read. Books I recommend:
- • The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Alex Haley
- • Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
- • Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson. (Recently released as a powerful film with Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan. This film has been made free on all platforms for rent during the month of June)
- • Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins. (Also impactful in audiobook form)
Get involved. Programs we support:
- • Equal Justice Initiative. Bryan Stevenson. www.eji.org
- • Black Lives Matter. https://blacklivesmatter.com/
- • Youth for Human Rights International. www.youthforhumanrights.org
- • Room to Grow. www.roomtogrow.org
Actually listen to what is being said. Open your heart. Take note. Don’t assume you know. And if you are white, don’t hide in the corner for fear of saying something wrong. Now more than ever is the time for open, honest dialogue and effective action. Posting a black square on Instagram is a start — but is light years from being sufficient.
Most of all, let us stand as one community, one nation, one people, and one humanity. Let’s actually work together to eliminate systemic racism in both the US and the world. This momentum and passion cannot and should not fade.
This clearly is not a political statement on my part, but rather a genuine, sincere, and imperfectly-worded message of compassion and care for George Floyd and his family, the Black Community, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the future of our country as a whole.
These are words I value highly:
“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.
I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
– Rosa Parks