Photo credit: Kevin J Beaty | Denverite
I am sad and mad for George Floyd and his family. I am sad and mad that the list of names before him is increasingly too long to remember easily but remember we must. I am sad and mad for the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children who feel they must hold their breath every time their loved ones leave the house. I am sad and mad that for some, even their homes were not safe havens. I am sad and mad for the indignities and microaggressions faced regularly by people about whom I care deeply and by people I do not know.
I am sad and mad that the tragedies, injustices and resulting conversations have been happening for far too long, with insufficient progress to show for it.
I am sad for all of the good cops of all backgrounds I have known and observed over the years, carrying the tarnish and burdens of the bad actors in their ranks. I am mad for the deep and lasting damage that bad cops have done over many years – lives lost, families shattered, faith in justice shaken, fear propagated – and for the policies that have perpetuated institutional racism and protected bad behavior.
I am sad and mad to see civic buildings, parks, monuments and small businesses marred and damaged. I am sad if people feel that is the only way to be heard. I am mad that vandals seem to be hijacking a cause and a critical moment, distracting some from the important messages at hand. And I am sad that some people are more outraged by property damage than loss of life.
I am sad and mad to see the rule of law violated in cities across America, including my own. I am sad and mad that so many people and communities have been violated by the law time and again.
I am sad and mad that the world, nation and our community have been united by an unprecedented and devastating shared viral threat – and yet even the virus affects communities of color disparately. I am sad and mad that any perceived gains in solidarity, goodwill and empathy in the face of this “common viral enemy” have been seemingly overshadowed by fear and division.
I am sad for the lost graduations, weddings, rites of passage and family gatherings due to the virus. I am sad for the lost graduations, weddings, rites of passage and family gatherings due to injustice. I am sad for the lives lost to both viruses: COVID-19 and racism.
From Minneapolis police officers fatally taking a knee on George Floyd’s neck, to Ahmaud Arbery being gunned down by two white men while on a run around his suburban Georgia neighborhood, to the racist dog-walking confrontation with Christian Cooper in New York’s Central Park, to emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor being killed in a police raid on her Kentucky apartment, to the massive health disparities of COVID-19 in black communities, it almost feels like too much to process.
And yet, processing is a privilege given that the threats and pain are everyday realities for too many black Americans. Speaking up is an obligation of that privilege. We also recognize the privilege and power that comes with being a foundation and we are committed to listening, learning and directing our philanthropy toward advancing equity, justice and inclusion.
Just as I have appreciated articulated expressions of support and allyship when events threaten or hurt the Jewish community, I want to say to the African American community – for the record – your outrage and heartbreak are shared. Those words feel woefully inadequate but must be said anyway.
And we must acknowledge that words, sadness and anger are not enough. Whether through peaceful demonstrations or philanthropic donations, voting or volunteering, listening and learning, supporting local black-owned businesses, reforming systems or repairing communal wounds, may we all find ways in our personal and professional lives to actively stand up for justice and against racism in all its forms. Rose Community Foundation stands with the Greater Denver area and African American community partners in particular, both in this moment and in the long term.