As the leader of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, and as an African American man with 2 sons, I am compelled to speak out against racism and injustice after viewing the senseless, merciless killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Video evidence showed Derek Chauvin, a white policer, applying continuous pressure to George Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes while 3 other officers assisted. The video footage left us horrified, heartbroken, and dismayed. People throughout the world were outraged by this heinous, inhumane act. Systematic racism, discrimination, violence, and oppression of minorities still exists in America today. In order to address racism as a problem, we must own up to that fact.
I have reflected on the events over the past 2 weeks. The coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil, record unemployment and, of course, George Floyd’s tragic death. During that time, I’ve seen healthcare workers risk their lives to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients. I’ve seen private citizens and foundations devote resources to nonprofits that assist struggling families with housing and food insecurity. I’ve seen parents, teachers, families, churches, and friends find innovative ways to celebrate graduating seniors’ accomplishments while honoring social distancing protocols.
During that same time, I’ve experienced pain and sorrow after seeing the civil rights of my fellow man being grossly violated. I’ve seen public outrage, protests, marches, civil disobedience, riots, and looting in major cities across the nation. America’s marginalized citizens, people of color, and the poor are angry and frustrated as they should be. It is encouraging to see citizens from many cultures in the United States, and other countries, protesting together for a common cause, and standing up for what is right! As my friend and former Eagles teammate, Herm Edwards says, “Right has never been wrong!”
Racism has been a part of America’s history since the days of slavery. All of us can look inward and do what we can to improve our unequal system of justice. This is a time for leaders to act. It is our shared responsibility to address and combat systematic racism.
Leaders must be committed to ensuring a culture where empathy, inclusion, equity, compassion, and respect are the North Star. We are all a part of the solution. It is our duty to identify, address, and eradicate racism whenever it rears its ugly head. We must ask ourselves and others what we can do to help?
Searching my own heart, and listening to others, I cannot condone the wrongful deaths over the past 6 years of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Jordan Edwards, Stephon Clark, and Ahmaud Arbery, all killed by police officers who took an oath to protect and serve the public. Their deaths cannot be in vain. Enough is enough!
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County remains dedicated to partnering and collaborating with local civic leaders in the education and development of our youth so they can claim great futures and become informed and contributing citizens to our nation and be part of the CHANGE.
We owe it to the youth we serve and to each other.
President & CEO