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Letter to Readers After the George Floyd 2020 Protests

Dear Readers,

Today, I plan to write to you personally, in a letter instead of an article.

After all that’s happened regarding the George Floyd murder (and for that matter, Ahmaud Arbery’s murder while on a jog in Georgia or for Breonna Taylor, when police raided her Louisville home), I am grieving. I can’t believe we are still in this mess. I know I must respond in a redemptive way. All leaders must respond in a redemptive way. I lived through the riots of 1968, the protests in the 1970s, the Rodney King riots in 1992, the Ferguson protests of 2014, and now what’s broken out in at least 140 cities in America. And there’s no resolve.

As a white male who can only imagine what my friends of color are experiencing, I’ve decided to – rather than offering advice – remain in a posture of listening. And reading. And watching. And learning.

Let me share with you some of the posts that have impacted me over the last few days:

1. Bernice King (daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) I met with Bernice some years ago and talked about her passion for the next generation. She has some wise counsel for us today. Here is her short speech: https://www.fox5atlanta.com/video/689452

2. Refinery29. “Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re OK—Chances Are They’re Not.” Here is the short article: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9841376/black-trauma-george-floyd-dear-white-people

3. YouTube. This video required me to grab a Kleenex. It’s parents of color trying to explain to their kids how to deal with this situation: https://youtu.be/coryt8IZ-DE

What I do believe is this: It is not enough to be quietly non-racist. Now is the time to be vocally anti-racist. Let’s build bridges to those who are unlike us, not walls. I actually believe most of us want this—but perhaps are not sure how to do it.

I’d like to hear from you, since I am in a listening posture. Would you weigh in?

Tim

11 Comments

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  3. Eve Harrell on June 2, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Thank you Tim for your listening and your wisdom! I too am working to listen and I am thankful for the conversation that is taking place!

    I would love to see more of a moderated type meeting beginning with the church where we can draw together and prayerfully have a conversation. I’m not sure that using the media and/or social media is the best place because for all of us to be the change we must all be willing to humbly listen and own our response.

    My heart is breaking for those who live in fear when they walk outside. I think that was the eye opener for me.

    I am praying for the healing balm of Jesus to cover us and unite us as one.

    Thank you so much!

  4. Baron on June 2, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Tim, thank you for sharing this letter and the posts. I have considered you as one of my long-distance mentors for nearly a decade. As a black man, husband, and father the speech from Bernice, the article that nailed it on the head and the video that made me cry are all too familiar.

    I have been pulled over or stopped by police nearly a dozen times as early as age 14. All the incidents except for two times was I treated with respect. One of my most ridiculous and humiliating incidents was on one occasion going to work I boarded the 34th St. Penn Station #2 train heading downtown to 14th St. After exiting the train attempting to leave the station an officer approached me and accused me of jumping the turnstile at 14th St. I explained that it was impossible as I just exited the train coming from 34th St. He proceeded to ask me if I had a MetroCard and then had the nerve to dismiss me away as I was getting a pass. I sat at my desk that day infuriated to be accused of a crime I never committed.
    It is a tradition for my fellow black families to train our children at an early age in how to deal with the police. It is almost as it is an unofficial rite of passage to see your next birthday. I sat yesterday on a ZOOM meeting with 200 + families across the U.S. to discuss how we raise our black boys. We are in pain, we are hurting, we are scared, we are tired, we are stressed! I talked to my 15-year-old and said there was a time when we were not even considered human. He responded I know it does not make sense. How can this be!
    White Supremacy must come to an end. Thank you for listening and I would ask that you would continue to speak up for justice. I know together we can make a difference and we the black people need allies on all sides and races as Dr.King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It has been 52 years since King’s assassination. America our children deserve better.

  5. Marilyn Alonso on June 2, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Mr. Elmore,
    I agree it’s terrible what happened to this family and totally wrong. However, destroying and vandalizing is also totally wrong. Where are the parents of these kids? Hate is something that people learn it’s not inherited. As parents we try to protect our children from harm, but how can we protect them if some parents feel that this type of behavior is alright to make their point to the world. The states that have had peaceful protest that’s the way to make your point known to the world.
    Those states that have used violence to make their point our a disgrace to our country. As for me that I came to this country escaping Communism for this country’s freedom. It hurts my heart and soul to see how these so called Americans abuse that freedom.
    God gave all of us the Will to choose to do right and wrong. Choosing to do wrong is a choice that brings you closer to Satan not God.
    Forgiveness and prayers is what this world needs at this time. God is sending all of us messages, but we are not listening. Like I tell my students put on your listening ears. People please wake up we are destroying ourselves and others. Don’t you see how much our world is suffering already with this evil pandemic and now people are adding with more evil. People God wants you all to stop ignoring him and put on your listening ears. Satan is trying to take over our world and we are letting him. Please please please let us give God his glory and let him be in control. With God in control everything is possible! Let us put on our listening ears so we can hear what God is trying to tell us to make us whole again, because we are all following apart. We need to listen! This is my prayer for our falling world.
    God bless,
    Marilyn Alonso

    • Sarah Outterson-Murphy on June 17, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      People destroying property is NOT morally equivalent to POLICE KILLING PEOPLE. Making them morally equivalent, or being more concerned about material possessions than sacred human life, is wrong. Black people are hurting and grieving and if you want the property damage to stop, we all need to LISTEN to their grief and anger.

  6. Diane on June 2, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the great links! I continue to learn. In becoming responsible for my own learning, history books written in the last decade have been very helpful in understanding systemic racism: The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. All are very well researched. We learned only European American history in school. Just now I am learning African American, Japanese American, Chinese American, and Native American history, and it is painfull!

  7. Rod Hames on June 2, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Tim,

    As a white male with some fantastic African American friends, I am at a loss for how to share my own feelings of sympathy when I can not be empathic since I have not lived in the world that my friends of color have been forced to endure.

    I appreciate the discussion that the two videos and the article you suggested have planted in my own heart and with my family. My daughter has really taken to protesting now with those in Atlanta and honestly I am scare for her life as she travels to these events happening around town. I am proud of her stance but also shaken by her thoughts about the world.

    I am resolved to give this much thought and prayer as I want to be a person of change that others see past our skin color and see that we were all created in the image of God.

    Blessing to you and your ministry to students, parents, teachers, administrators, and coaches.

    Rod

  8. jay che on June 3, 2020 at 2:14 am

    A fish rot from the head down… we need to stop the top US government to stop inciting hate and division. If you sow wind you’ll reap whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). We need to stop him from racism, sexism and derogatory comments/statements. We need to stop calling him a man of God, he is not the one. What he did is a blasphemy to God. God is sad and very angry with America, a nation and people known as Christian.

  9. Baron on June 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Tim, have you considered developing a Habitudes for Diversity education?

    • Sarah Outterson-Murphy on June 17, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      I have to say as a white person whose school district (about half white and half students of color) is adopting your program, the lack of people of color in leadership in your organization is concerning to me. You have black people as assistants and interns, but not as guiding leaders with authority. Please do better and work hard to make sure your materials are safe for me to share with my diverse group of students.

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Letter to Readers After the George Floyd 2020 Protests