Letter to the Community: George Floyd

 

Dear Friends,

We at BRYC, like you, are sad and angry over the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd; the dangerous and absurd accusations made of Christian Cooper in Central Park; and the other, seemingly daily reminders that it is not safe to be Black in America. These grisly violences are the results of systemic racism.

If we, white people, purport to care about Black Americans’ physical, psychological, and economic safety, we must graduate from the notion that White Supremacy is a burning cross. No. It’s hiring practices; school-based “discipline”; discriminatory lending; victim-blaming; property tax siphoning; racist sports mascots; “colorblindness”; silence at family dinner tables; and more. Where do you fit in?

Many of us, white people, are not bad people. But we benefit from advantages so baked into our privileged experience that we are blind to them, thus we can’t help but deepen these advantages, further marginalizing Black people, even friends and colleagues. This unconsciousness is a choice. If we make it — if we don’t do something different personally — we are, in fact, bad people, and on our worst days, we are accomplices to murder. That, to me, is more uncomfortable than confronting a relative over an insensitive comment. Do you agree?

BRYC is committed to being a safe haven for its predominantly Black students. We will continue to name injustice because we value our Fellows’ lives and experiences. We will continue to create spaces for our Fellows to critically examine these issues in ways that do not re-traumatize them. Our non-Black staff and volunteers will become bolder, more thoughtful allies. And as an organization, we will dismantle systems that perpetuate college access and completion disparities along racial lines.

As a straight, white, cisgender man, I have to grow a lot. I hope you will join me. Here are a few simple action steps to start:

In community,

Lucas