We Need to Move Forward Together — Here Are Some Solutions For How

Will you help be part of the solutions?

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An innocent man was murdered in the street. That man was Black. Killed at the hands of a White police officer. Something has to change.

I hope this post sparks a conversation that leads to ACTION to help move us in that direction of positive change. I’m writing this because I’ve seen and heard the cry from Black Americans in sports, politics, business and in my community asking white people to speak out.

We need to listen with empathy — but also to speak out and see if we can help be a part of the solution of eliminating racism — to the greatest extent possible.

Reaction

When I first saw the video of what happened to George Floyd, all I could think was, How in the world is this happening? Believe me — it was the same feeling I had seeing the murder of Eric Garner. And many others that have lost their lives throughout the history of this country. It was sickening. No surprise. But yet still — shock. HOW???

To say it was appalling wouldn’t be doing it justice. No words can adequately capture the loss of human life due to racism. It’s disgusting.

George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who should have had the discipline to never let that situation even come close to escalating the way it did. The escalation was entirely on the part of the police officer. It’s awful to think millions of Black Americans are simply living with a different state of mind than white Americans.

They have good reason to think and feel differently.

It’s not fair. It’s far past time for a change.

I’ve struggled with this — largely because, for me, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life around Black people. I married a Black woman. Together, we’re raising several children of color. I played basketball growing up, as well as in high school and college with Black teammates who became good friends. So many parts of Black culture have resonated with me my whole life.

In high school, I rode the bus as the rare white minority with mostly Black classmates — classmates that had my back in times of adversity and cared for me. All of this is to say — I struggle with understanding HOW some White people could live with a racist mindset. There’s no doubt, however, that it’s real. I’m just saying — it’s extremely hard for me to process based on my own experience.

And yet — none of this is to say that these experiences help me know or understand what it’s like to be Black. I never will know. Despite how much I ask my wife, friends or colleagues, I just won’t. And if you’re reading this and you’re White, you never will either. I don’t say that to be condescending.

I say it for some grounding — because it’s time that we listen and do our best to understand more about the experience of our Black brothers and sisters.

Understanding

I recently read comments from former All-Pro NFL wide receiver, Anquan Boldin, in regard to the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. I found myself in total agreement. He’s talking here about white NFL players that he’s known and his feeling toward their mindset and responsibility:

“It’s not that they don’t care what’s happening to African Americans in this country. A lot of them are afraid to say the wrong things,” Boldin said. “So that’s why a lot of guys stay away from being in front of the cameras and speaking out about certain subjects. And honestly, they don’t go through what we go through, but to say that they don’t support us, that would be far from the truth.

“They want to make sure that the message that they speak out is right… they want to make sure that what they say doesn’t hurt the cause, as opposed to helping it.” Source: ESPN

The truth is, I think many White people have been afraid to speak up — more because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. It’s not that they don’t want to help. I think they’re afraid of entering into a situation where:

  1. They don’t understand or know enough about (so they fear)
  2. They’re unsure of how to help
  3. They don’t want to say the wrong thing and then live with a load of regret afterwards for being criticized

Please note — this is not an excuse. It’s not. It’s stating what I’ve heard others say, and it echoes what Anquan Boldin’s experience has been.

I’ll say unequivocally that rioting, looting and destroying stores and communities is not a solution. It’s not. I can go by media reports that suggest these violent protests are the anomaly. Most protests have been peaceful — following in the monumental footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and many civil rights icons before and after him.

I’ll also say — I truly believe the majority of police officers are good, decent people that care about their communities. Of course, there are some that aren’t good and decent. There are some that clearly don’t have the discipline or awareness of how to act. I have close friends that I grew up with that are now NYPD officers and local police officers that I know are great people.

I think — by and large — the police are not the problem. Unfortunately, the few bad ones make everyone look bad. And the few bad ones absolutely need to be fired and removed from the uniform.

I’ve seen many Black and White Americans at this time offer up prayers. I’ve seen many petitions for peace. I’ve seen a lot of people embrace, hold hands and ask authorities for change. This is beautiful and should continue.

Solutions and Ideas

The way I live my life is by looking for solutions to problems. I do this for my coaching clients, I do it for the businesses I partner with, and this is what comes out in my writing. So, as a businessman and leader, I wanted to take some time now to offer up some ideas, hopefully some solutions and some thoughts.

  • If you’re White, please reach out to Black friends, colleagues and people in your community. Listen. Understand. Empathize with their experience. Be willing to have an honest discussion around what WE can do TOGETHER to help eliminate the fear; be willing to listen to how we can all change the way we see one another
  • Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t be afraid about speaking from the heart. Get informed. Then, ask how you can help. That shows courage. It takes putting yourself out there. Now is the time. If you’ve sat on the sidelines in the past, be willing to get in the game and help
  • We’re all doing a lot of Zoom calls these days. Maybe you can organize one among leaders at your organization, or among friends of yours. Instead of just participating in this as a one-time thing, drive change where you are to make this a recurring discussion. Make a pledge together that we’ll never leave anyone on the margins to worry about their own safety or well being
  • Be willing to organize a discussion around solutions to help out in the community. To consider organizing discussions with political leaders and police officers in the community you live. Reach out. We have so many communication tools at our disposal. Let’s use them. Help to organize a town hall discussion to drive change
  • Where I live, there are examples of organizations like YWCA and Together SC that have helped the nonprofit community take the lead on education and awareness issues surrounding racial equity. These two examples from Charleston, South Carolina hopefully set powerful precedent. Check out local organizations and see how you can participate

I realize it may be cliche to close with a quote from a legend, but the thing is — this is one of my favorite quotes in life. It’s one I’ve used in times of inspiration and struggle that’s helped me move forward:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Whatever you can do, I ask you to look deep into your hearts. Silence won’t cut it. Help us move forward in ending racism and bringing us together collectively to understand, empathize and support one another.

Author, Executive Coach & Emotional Intelligence Speaker; Seen on Fox, ABC, CNBC, etc.; http://chrisdconnors.com

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