In the last few days, racism, social justice, and police brutality in the United States hit the world stage as people took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd.
My initial reaction was a few silent thoughts. I’m searching for the words and connections now, including posting this note up on YouTube.
My first step is recognizing my own privilege, my identity, and its role in every aspect of my life. I identify as a white, cis male, able bodied, heterosexual, American citizen. This shaped what I had access to, how people met me, invited my comments, and responded to me. I went to private school starting in middle school, Brown University on nearly a full scholarship, and I regularly get invited to speak at events around the world. These opportunities have been afforded by my privilege. I want to make use of my skin tone, my stature, my gender, and my position to help others. It’s a debt of gratitude for everything that’s been given to me.
I work on solutions to the changing climate. Scientifically, climate impact seems to affect everyone as carbon dioxide in the air rises around the world. But already we’re seeing that it doesn’t, it affects people of color more, marginalized communities more, and people in developing countries more. And in my experience, the climate community is mostly white, mostly male. That will continue until we make a change, until I make a change, until you make a change.
When COVID took the world stage, I jumped on it because of my biotech experience. I adjusted to a new external force, and worked to integrate it into a better future and a better climate.
But I’m not an expert on racism, police brutality, or social justice. expertise on this. My response has been silence. So this week I’ve found that starting with even the small statements works to break up my silence. “Police brutality is bad” “I want police brutality to stop”. Then I found more strength in getting specific. “That policeman needs to stop beating up that unarmed black woman. This is racism!”.
I’ve been complacent. I have lots of work to do. I continue to listen and seek out knowledge. I have the incredible gift of people in my life to help guide me on this path.
If you had an enlightening conversation this week, or read a helpful article, I’d love to hear about it. And if you feel like supporting your communities or organizations, now is the time.
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