Two Years Later

Remembering George Floyd

Reflections on the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death

On the solemn anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, we reflect on what has changed and the long road of change ahead. Less than 24 hours after another heinous mass shooting, many are understandably battling despair daily. As this work always is, it’s deep, complex, challenging, and rife with contradiction. I am heartbroken, sickened, daunted, cynical and scared, hopeful and determined.

As I reflect on my history within anti-racist work over the past two and a half decades, I celebrate levels of institutional recognition and progress I never thought possible. When I first became involved in social justice work, simply the concept of white privilege broke and ended white-led organizations. Progressive white leaders in environmental, education, peace, labor, and social service organizations folded organizations rather than confront racism. Anti-racist activists had to sustain campaigns for years within the groups that remained to get a single anti-racism training.

Two decades later, white privilege is a popularly accepted fact. Local and state governments have mandated anti-racism within organizations, and millions of white folks recognized and have taken action against systemic racism for the first time. I have seen the impact and incredible outcome of organizations that began this process back then and have stuck with the transformation. This is all to say that I have witnessed a distinct cultural shift and tremendous progress. I have seen that anti-racism works and the beautiful and inspirational outcomes of successful, long-term work.

However, in many ways, the state of the world has never been worse, and systemic racism and the pain and violence it inflicts remain deeply embedded and alive. Violence against people of color exists at all levels of our society, and police killings continue. Many of the millions of white folks that took action in 2020 stopped there, and many corporations, governments, and non-profits are only engaging in anti-racism as performance. And yet, within those millions of white folks and organizations, there are many genuinely interested in and committed to authentic change; they are simply in the early stages of a deep and long-term process that takes time to demonstrate outward progress.

While I feel a world screaming in pain and hold this complex mix of emotions daily, I have never been more committed to the efficacy and necessity of anti-racism. Anti-racism is the medicine to both heal our systems and heal us as humans. It is the remedy to alleviate our country’s endemic pain and despair, and it is the method through which we come together to transform grief and pain into love and liberation. Anti-racism is the cumulative knowledge of 500 years of BIPOC liberation struggle for survival.

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, let’s remember that in times of tragedy and against overwhelming odds, it has always been the choice of individuals and communities to come together to chart a new way that has changed history. It is what works, and especially in our overwhelming despair, we need to reach out and take hold of the medicine that’s right before us.

We need us. Join us.

In love and healing,