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It has been a really sad week.
There’s nothing I’m going to say here that hasn’t been said, and I’m under no delusion that the national conversation needs my voice. But I have a moral obligation not to turn away.
There are lots of opinions about whether one should or should not watch the video of Tyre Nichols being beaten to death by Memphis police. I have chosen not to watch it but feel like I have been carrying his spirit around in my heart all week. My son is a skateboarder, so the photos of Tyre skateboarding are really piercing, and I’ve been trying to imagine getting the call that Tyre’s family did.
And I keep thinking, “If body cams didn’t stop this, what will?!” For a while there, we (White folks, mostly) collectively fantasized that accountability and training might solve things. Let’s just make sure officers’ actions are documented, and let’s put everybody through some anti-bias training.
Training doesn’t produce liberation. Accountability doesn’t produce healing. We need a complete re-membering of who we are as humans and how to live in right relationship with each other. This requires a radical reckoning with our colonial past and the violence of enslavement. It’s time for a fierce pursuit of anti-violence and reparations, one that requires the transformation of individual hearts and minds, and also legislation, policies, and institutional renewal.
There’s a move in non-profits to replace the term “trauma-informed care” with “healing-centered engagement.” What I love about this is the acknowledgement that being informed is not enough. All the anti-racist trainings, books, and social media feeds at our disposal aren’t producing enough justice. Healing requires something more heart-centered.
As a White person, one thing I can do is to be in mourning and in action at the same time. It’s incredible to think of Coretta Scott King, who started The King Center just four months after her husband was assassinated. Black folks have always been in mourning and in action at the same time—they haven’t had the luxury of waiting until things “settled down” before demanding justice. That time has never come. The rest of us need to join them.
So what can you do to be in grief and action at the same time? There are a lot of wise activists leading the way right now, many of them from rising identities, who have more credibility than I do. But here’s what I’m doing:
  • I receive  Omkari Williams’ Activist MicroAction newsletter. Today, I sent a message to my senators, asking them to call for a vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
  • I pay for a subscription to my local news outlet, The Cascadia Daily News (I love them so much.) So many opportunities for action are right around us, and we can’t serve if we’re not informed.
  • My assistant Robin and I have created a resource sheet for clients who want to grow in their understanding of difference. Though learning won’t save us, it is definitely part of the picture. You can download it here. As I always say, if we can spend an hour online researching the best no-slip socks or safest bike helmet, we can certainly spend some time educating ourselves about racism or other kinds of discrimination.
  • I contributed to the Tyre Nichols memorial fund. I find it disingenuous to be sad without putting my money where my heart is. This isn’t the calling for all of us, especially if you are part of a marginalized group. But it’s important for me.
  • I make a monthly contribution to the Poor People’s Campaign, whose moral and economic agenda links racism and poverty and calls for policy reform.
  • I take time to meditate, pray, and feel sadness over Tyre’s death and the countless others who are dying because of police brutality.
I am here for healing. I am here for liberation. Let’s be in grief and action together.
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