It’s taken me some time to absorb, analyze, and reflect on George Floyd’s police brutality case that occurred in May 25th in Minneapolis, MN.
I’ve listened to the opinions of influencers who vocalize their thoughts on Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve watched the images of the media who crafted their own narrative on the issue, and openly heard the opinions of my friends who genuinely shared their thoughts on the issue.
As a Latina woman in the business community, perhaps I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the issue. Yes, I am Latina and of course, it’s bothered me when I hear sexist comments in boardrooms, but even then there is still a veil of ignorance in me because I have not lived in the Black experience in America. Yet, I have an immense amount of respect for my business friends and colleagues who have experienced what it’s like to be Black in America. My parents never raised us with preparatory remarks on what to do if a police officer stops my vehicle, I’ve never experienced stop and frisk in NYC, and I do not know what it feels like to walk in my own neighborhood at night with my hands in my pocket and a hoodie and fear that I may pose a threat to others. I’ve never had to train my daughter to recite “I am not armed, my hands are above my head” lines when a police officer stops her. This is the honest truth — my experience has just been different.
Listen, whether the media crafted Floyd as a martyr or whether you believe Floyd was in fact a criminal — is really beside the point. We can sit here and argue all day on the representative iconic meanings we’ve assigned to Floyd — but to disprove or support such an argument is really distractive to the overall purpose of the movement. What the incident did and NEEDED to do was spark conversation — raw, honest, truthful, and genuine conversations. If you did not grow up Black in America, you probably don’t get it.
Our lack of cultural understanding and gaps in our country’s TRUE HISTORY may be the deficiencies we all can admit we suffer from. The symptomatic effect is that these deficiencies cause us to either desensitize from the issue and say “not my problem” OR truly ask ourselves “ok, maybe I don’t get it, but tell me more”. These conversations NEEDed to happen. Brutal, honest and uncut — it may not FEEL comfortable — but it needed to happen.
I think we ALL have an obligation to recognize, accept, and acknowledge that Blacks have lived a different experience in America rooted from segregation, history of slavery, lack of education, voter oppression, and years of sitting at the bottom of our socio-economic systems (GI Bill, Jim Crow Laws, Redlining practices, etc) . When your ethnic group experiences generations of oppressive legislative policies IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY, yeah, I bet that would get you very angry as well. It hurts and bothers me to see cities and small businesses destroyed by the looting.But I also recognize that this destructive behavior is NOT representative of the progressive Black Lives Matter movement.
So , “do we put up the black box on Instagram and call it a day”?” . I don’t think so . As leaders, influencers, and business owners, we have the obligation to somehow impact change. On a Macro level, perhaps the change starts with pressuring our state representatives to create legislative policies that minimize police brutality incidents, increase education and resources for disenfranchised communities, and replace old dusty, outdated history books written by biased historians with books that validate and accept the truth about our racist American history.
On a Micro level –Do you have the power to influence change at home, with your friends, in your board rooms, in your community or leadership teams?
I don’t want to go cliche in this article. I don’t want to say “ we are all leaders and we can all make change happen” — that’s way too cliche for me. The truth is, sometimes our ignorance — my ignorance — impedes me from learning more, doing more, exploring more. Perhaps the first step — at least for me– is to educate myself more on the issue and join collaborative efforts with anyone progressive to the Black Lives Matter movement. I accept this as my reto — my challenge.
Admittingly, I just don’t have the answers to everything. I do know we can learn from each other, pray for the solidarity of our brothers and sisters, and educate our future generations on our current racial pandemic that hit us just as hard as the health pandemic in 2020.