Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and the countless number of others who never made the press are all in our spirits as we pay homage to the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. A death sparked a national movement, global protests, and a reckoning of race in America, especially around the mantra BLACK LIVES MATTER.
George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter eloquently made a powerful statement about her late father’s impact on the world as people around the globe continue to protest his killing when she said, “Daddy changed the world!”.
I still remember that day as tears rolled down my face, fear overwhelmed my spirit, numbness overtook my consciousness. I felt paralyzed with disbelief in this moment and so many other moments where we are reminded of the wickedness of racism against Black people and other people of color. Critical thinking, superb analysis, and the examination of the facts were replaced by vile actions that caused America and the entire world to look itself in the mirror. As this little girl recognized that her father’s death meant something, we all must never forget the significance of his death.
As the President & CEO of Community Action Partnership of Orange County, an organization born out of the Civil Rights Movement, I am taking the time to reflect on this critical date in our history. Addressing inequities in our society and bridging the gap or those disproportionally affected by poverty due to the color of their skin is an essential aspect of our work as a community. Today is a sad remembrance of that fact. However, the time element of one year doesn’t erase what happened and what is still happening.
The reckoning of change is not measured nor discovered in a vacuum. The hurt, the changing of public policy, the grit of police brutality, and ultimately the changing of hearts and behaviors have to continue every day, hour, minute, and second of our lives. Remember, George Floyd was kneed on for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. His family will never stop hurting, and our communities will never stop healing.
I’m reminded of this great quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is cooperating with it.”
Hate crimes against Asians, Asian Americans, and our Spanish speaking Latino neighbors are no less evil. We have to fight against injustice wherever we see it, smell it and hear it. Injustice shows up in different forms, including systematic efforts and laws that keep specific populations in poverty or the lack of affordable housing and appropriate health care. It shows up in the quality of food and food insecurity for certain parts of the community or through our education systems and environmental justice. It happens in the board rooms of corporate America or antiquated norms that create inequities in the workplace.
Not much has changed from a year ago. The anniversary is a bold reminder that we must make meaningful change. We must get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law with bi-partisan support. That would be a good first step, then we must hold our systems accountable to uphold the law on every level through civic engagement, and community involvement.
We must continue to intentionally place Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the front of our lens and business plans. Study shows the business case for diversity in business has a direct positive link to a company’s bottom line and innovation strategy.
We also must challenge the status quo and support C-Suite leaders of color and create programs that help minority microbusinesses and entrepreneurs scale their business. Oftentimes, people of color have less access to capital or the resources to leverage their commerce that could create real community change.
Finally, support Community Action Partnership of Orange County’s Back for Success. This past year has been unpredictable; students and youth of color have continued to show their resiliency adapting to virtual learning and now adapting to the changes going back to school in-person. The impacts of the pandemic and racial injustice are lasting and many students in Orange County may not have the supplies they need for school.
- There are currently over 37,000 families with children living below poverty in California.
- 1 billion dollars’ worth of unpaid energy bills in California mean parents are left catching up on other necessities and unable to provide the materials for school.
- With the education gap widening in 2020 due to the digital divide, it is more important than ever that low-income youth are given the proper resources to be prepared to learn.
No student should go to school worrying that they don’t have the supplies they need. We want to ensure that they step back into school prepared to learn. Go to www.capoc.org to learn more.