Last night I tried to explain to my 17 year-old daughter why our country is in flames. She cried out at the injustice toward George Floyd. I watched as she expressed the end of her innocence. She asked me, “Could I be killed by a police officer, daddy, because of the color of my skin?”
The United State of America is at an inflection point. Now is the time for each one of us to participate, to stand up for what we believe is right. Now America needs us. And when I say America, I do not just mean an abstract national identity. I mean my daughter.
I was moved by the woman who owns Teaism, a restaurant in downtown DC. Michelle Brown lost her business to fire in the midst of the protests. She responded by saying, “It doesn’t matter how I feel. It’s not about me. There are 100,000 people dead. This guy had a policeman sit on his neck for nine minutes. These are horrible things that are happening that we’re going through in this country. So for me, whatever it is that we have to cope with, I feel blessed and lucky every day that I’m in confinement here.” I hope that my heart shines as true as hers given the chance.
This is the time for each of us to act, to claim our individual and collective agency. For each, what we do will be different. Some will be in front of news cameras, others will be in private. Some will be loud and boisterous, and some will be gentle and nondescript.
Pay attention to the calling of your own soul and take the action that speaks to your integrity.
“The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.”
– James Baldwin