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What Will It Take?

 

What will it take to end oppression of any and all humans in these United States (USA)?

Social justice change will require sustained and informed dialogue, accountability, responsible leadership, and community outrage that builds awareness, understanding, and compassionate actions. The time is now.  400 years of internalized supremacy, privilege, and inequities – more than enough!!

Racism, sexism, classism, age-ism, and more isms are harmful and multi-dimensional. They have interpersonal, systemic, institutional, structural, and historical dimensions. Senseless killings like the knee choke that preceded George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis will continue until humans make changes in policies, practices, and perspectives.  How we see each other affects how we treat each other.  How we see or fail to see our own biases and histories affects the policies we enact and support, and the practices we engage in daily.

I bow in applause to civil servants who model integrity, candor, and commitment to social justice.  My work as an equity leader in hundreds of schools within 40 states over the past 20 years has been informed by the lives of leaders from diverse cultural backgrounds and different generations.  Today my heart is broken in pieces over the video display of the police officer with the knee on George Floyd’s neck, as George was voicing “I can’t breathe” shortly before his death.  It has been called a “public lynching” and so it is. And so have been far too many others.

It has been said, The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step[1]; and here is a step: Leaders in Minneapolis need not only to arrest the officers involved (as is repeatedly stated  “not move too quickly”) but also to secure deep, excellent, reputable equity and anti-bias learning/training for the public servants in that state.  I was one of the leaders that the PEW Foundation brought to Minneapolis for such a cause close to 20 years ago.  More than 250 leaders from 10 states convened in anti-racism conversations and my co-facilitator, who was an attorney of Latino heritage from San Antonio and I, along with 15 other facilitators of many racial backgrounds, led deep, meaningful conversations there for several days.

There are many reputable organizations to contact for anti-bias learning and training; and I urge decision-makers to do so as quickly as possible.  Community dialogues are only a starting place; although essential to ending oppression.  Change will require informed dialogue, accountability, and community support that builds awareness, understanding, and compassionate actions to end oppression of any and all humans. These reasonable steps hold strong probability for peace, harmony, and civility when acted upon.

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[1]This is attributed to Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher

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