How are you?
I’m angry. I’m tired. I’m sad.
The news of the verdicts coming out of Breonna Taylor’s case (or lack thereof) yesterday was frustrating to say the least, yet somehow not a surprise. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “It’s just weighing really heavy on my heart, and because we know that her death is not just the result of one person but the system, structure, and department that failed their entire community.”
How can we expect an oppressive system that has been built over generations with deep-seated roots of racism to suddenly correct itself? It won’t. Oppression is what our system was designed to perpetuate, and it is succeeding to that end. This means that we cannot simply fix this with bandaids– instead, the entire system needs to be dismantled and then rebuilt. This takes work, and while I do truly believe that we are bending towards justice, we won’t get there overnight. We may not get there in our lifetimes, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight.
This work is a marathon, not a sprint– a concept that I’ve been returning to quite often as of late. The frustrating secret about this marathon is that it never ends– once we start running, we won’t ever cross a finish line. That idea can be overwhelming on the best of days. A little over two years ago, I ran my first half-marathon. The day of the race, I started off strong but half way through I started to flag. What had initially been a fun experience started to be a dreaded slog. But, I took breaks. I drank water. I leaned on other runners for support, cheering them on and getting energy from the crowds. What we need to do in this moment is to lean on each other as we continue to push forward in this race, together.
If you’ve ever sat through a history class and wondered what you would have done in certain moments, you don’t have to wonder anymore. Right now, you get to decide how you show up for what is important to you: the right to live. The right to breathe. The right to not be murdered in your sleep, because police broke into the wrong home.
You also get to decide how you want to support your colleagues and employees. The personal is professional, and vice versa. We live in a society that says: some people don’t matter. No matter what your job is, who you are, what title you hold, you can push back on that message. Each of us as individuals has the power to do something on behalf of our coworkers, whether it’s a simple check in or a more in depth review assessing whether organizational practices and policies are inclusive. Especially if you hold a leadership position within your organization, consider what the company offers each employee in the way of support? And, how can you do more?
This has been a heavy few days, including the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing last Friday. Here’s what I’ve had to continuously remind myself: no one person is going to save us. We are in this together, and the only way through is going to be by supporting each other. We have to be the fight. We have to continue to stand up and speak up. We can’t give up. It takes all of us, collectively, to see change through. Take a pause today and make time to simply breathe. Connect with your coworkers. Give time to grieve and rage. If we can’t all be safe and protected out in the world, let us at least feel safe and protected inside the organizations we work for.
Breonna Taylor’s life matters. She should still be alive. She is not, so she should get justice. She has not, so we have to continue to fight for her, and for others. We are dealing with collective trauma and loss, so once more: let it not be business as usual today, or any other days.
Ways to take action