Over the past week, we have seen the energy around the tragic death of George Floyd sweep across the world. Thousands have protested in large cities and small towns. Many more have voiced their sympathy, outrage, and distress on social media. The solidarity is powerful, even if the core message is threatened by cooption from all sides. We absolutely need collective voices to be raised to create the world we want.
As I navigated the long lines of cars in the protest in my town this weekend, I felt challenged to take the same level of energy and passion that we apply in response to a tragic national story and apply it every day to our local concerns. The core systemic issues behind the deaths of George Floyd and countless others are not isolated to those circumstances or communities but exist in every community across this country. It is true that some places have embraced equity more fully than others, but nowhere (yet) has inoculated itself against the ubiquitous underlying racism, inequity, and power imbalance that continues to haunt this nation.
What if I/we poured more energy into pursuing local anti-racist policies every day — at every School Board and Town Council meeting — with our neighbors and friends right here in the places where we live? What if we don’t wait until the next tragedy — cop killing, school shooting, racist Federal policy comes — but mobilize continuously? What if we avoid getting sucked into the soap opera of the incident and focus on the root causes that produce these incidents perpetually? What if we stop over-focusing on the drama of the players on a national stage — expressing our undying appall at what someone says or tweets — and shift more of that attention to what is going on right in our backyard?
We can do this — here, now, together.
I know there are many who do take this approach every day. I certainly do not claim to be an expert at this type of local engagement and acknowledge that I approach this topic from a place of privilege. I am humbled by all this and tempted to not click “Publish” to unleash my musings to the world, but I have to be committed to the hard work ahead. I am ready to be more locally vocal starting now. Will you join me?
Are you someone actively shifting your energy and engagement to local issues? Leave a comment below with your perspective. I’d love to learn from your experience and collaborate on creating the world we want to see, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.