“I can’t breathe.”
These were among George Floyd’s last words, choked out before his life ended under the knee of a white police officer. “I can’t breathe.” Words that have since appeared on countless news sites, on graffiti under bridges, on t-shirts, on handmade placards at rallies around the globe. “I can’t breathe.” Words now synonymous with demands for racial justice. “I can’t breathe.” Words that, four weeks later, still weaken my knees and bring tears to my eyes.
I am horrified and heartbroken. I suspect I would feel that way no matter where I lived. But the fact that this atrocity occurred in my beloved adopted city magnifies its impact. No longer can I deny this simple truth: I haven’t done enough.
Despite decades of trying to be a good person, doing no harm, working in a helping profession, studying diversity, exploring nonviolence, marching in civil rights demonstrations. I haven’t done enough.
I have not done enough to end systemic racism that leads to murder and so many injustices to Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). It’s time to take a deeper dive, into ways I am blind, ignorant, and complicit. I want to contribute to a world in which everyone is valued and safe. I want to fight racism, white supremacy, and inequality. As I wrote in my last blog, I want to be part of the solution.
Knowing full well that what I offer will likely not be enough, fearing that I might unintentionally offend, owning that in many ways mine is a life of privilege, I humbly offer the following as a beginning.
- I am rereading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
- I have been listening to Tara Brach’s “A Courageous Presence with Racism”
- I’ve checked out the work of Aaron Rose on Racial Healing Reprogramming
- Based on the above, as part of our free, weekly Lemonade Meditation, last Saturday I led a meditation on Overcoming Privilege and Redefining Safety for white people.
- I’ve donated to Hennepin Healthcare Foundation’s East Lake Clinic Fund, Lake Street Council, Independent Investigative Network, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Black Lives Matter.
In addition, my team is offering free Listening Sessions, which provide the opportunity to engage in full-hearted sharing and listening. Facilitated by my colleague Megan Kelly Hubbell, each hour-long session utilizes Full Heart Living Conversation Sparks. These carefully curated conversation starters help participants connect deeply with themselves. Listeners reflect back speakers’ themes and values, leading to heightened inner and interpersonal connections. This is a nonthreatening way to begin connecting more deeply with ourselves and others necessary to do the inner work of examining privilege and implicit racial bias. Visit www.fullheartliving.com for further information.
Going forward, I plan to continue studying antiracism. My copy of How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is on the way, and I am exploring online antiracism training. To encourage more diversity of all kinds, for at least the next year, any training or education I provide will be offered with a sliding fee or no-questions-asked full scholarship option. BIPOC are most welcome.
These actions represent a mere beginning. I undertake them with a humble, heavy heart. Yet I am also hopeful. As Mister Fred Rogers implores in times of tragedy, “Look for the helpers.” So many people have taken to the streets this past month, not only with signs and raised voices, but with masks, first aid, water, and even brooms to help clean up.
I suspect we’ve reached a tipping point, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Much deep, difficult work remains. It must be done, so that we all can breathe.
TODAY’S CONVERSATION SPARKS
Have a conversation with a friend or family member in which both of you explore the following questions. Listen deeply and speak from the heart.
- How are you affected by racism?
- What are you called to do now?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tom Glaser is a Minneapolis-based psychologist, life coach, speaker, and author of Full Heart Living: Conversations with the Happiest People I Know. He’s now writing a book on Resilience Following Trauma. You’ll find three mini-documentaries on Resilience and Trauma at the Full Heart Living YouTube channel.