“Tsunami - A very large wave, often caused by an earthquake, that flows onto the land and can cause widespread deaths and destruction.”
Some would say a tsunami is analogous of our present economic, social and pandemic latent society. A powerful and unpredictable moment, with consequences that shocks our senses, disturbs our realities, sending us running for the exits, sheltering in place or even marching into the eye of the storm.
As we all bear witness to some disturbing images that will undoubtedly be etched in our hearts and minds for years to come, I want to express my condolences and empathy to the Floyd family, and all those affected by the ground swell of emotions that caused social unrest, physical harm and small business destruction throughout this country.
A country already burdened with a Coronavirus Pandemic, an overwhelmed healthcare system, an economic shutdown that has 45 million Americans out of work or under-employed*, and a disproportionate number of disenfranchised and marginalized people bearing the brunt of the crisis. Mr. Floyd’s shameful and unprovoked death has certainly complicated an already stressful and uncertain state of affairs in our country.
“I Can’t Breathe”
As a Black boy growing up in Charleston, SC in the 60’s, I saw racism in many forms while my parents struggled and sacrificed daily to shield us from the realities of the inequities. But even then, I sensed we had come a long way from “Jim Crow”, where Billy Holiday’s 1939 iconic song “Strange Fruit” describes trees bearing haunting images, symbolizing ostensibly the lawful lynching of African Americans in the south. The parallel between lynching then and the more recent cries of desperate souls at the hands of the police will haunt our nation for quite some time.
Marching for Justice
George Floyd’s victimization and ultimate sacrifice has once again exposed the scabs of racism and ignited the mass protest and business disruption shown worldwide by the media. Unfortunately, marching and demonstrations seem to be the only way African Americans can seize the attention of the unaffected in America.
Right now, the media finds itself conflicted in deciding which “crisis” to headline. Is it just bad policing or the entire justice system? Do we address the source of societal ills in Black and Brown communities due to poor healthcare, inadequate housing, underfunded public schools, and unfair access to full employment and capital? Do we blame it on bad leadership or worse…blame it on the victims themselves…the under-served? These are all good questions. I’m not a politician or a media consultant so I’ll leave those decisions to the voters and the TV execs.
Where Do We Go from Here… Chaos or Community?
Dr. King’s book, “Where Do We Go from Here…” is always a good reference when we believe we’re at a tipping point. His quote, “The arc of the moral universes is long, but it bends towards justice” tells us that if we continue the pursuit of equality and justice, the moral universe will meet us at our destination.
We all have individual power to affect the bend of that arc. I’ll keep helping people create financial legacy that bends toward family, community, church and important causes. Others will build better housing, create fairer employment opportunities, fund Black businesses, enact equitable laws, teach and guide our youth and much more.
Whatever we do, pray for purpose. Make a difference. Be a leader.
Do it for me. Do it for George Floyd.
God rest his soul.
*US News and World Report – May 7th 2020