Resources for Leaders

Now Is the Time for a True Reckoning!

“All you do is keep hearing about fear, but we’re the ones being killed. It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”
~Doc Rivers, Head Coach, Los Angeles Clippers
How does this statement by Doc Rivers inform parents and leaders regarding the Talk?

In eight minutes and forty-six seconds George Floyd died an excruciating death. Three shots fired from a pump action shotgun killed Ahmaud Arbery. Philando Castille suffered death by seven gunshots. BreonnaTaylor was hit and killed by six bullets out of a volley of 32 by police.

And the latest heinous headline happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake, with his back turned, was shot seven times. Jacob now lies in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down.

The pain and trauma exacted by this most recent wounding of Black Lives has further exacerbated and widened the racial trust gap. The level of anger, anxiety, depression, and fear experienced by Black people is off the Richter scale. For generations, Black parents have initiated a necessary conversation with their male children. the Talk , as it is called, is a prerequisite for Black male survival.

Why must it be that way? Why must I prepare my sons and grandsons to survive in order for them to thrive? Why must I give them the Talk ? I’m sure that this ritual is not commonplace in the homes of White people.

And although I myself received the Talk as a young man and have administered it to my sons and grandsons, still we receive the Look. Why is it an expectation that, when I go into a so-called high-end store or drive through suburban enclaves, I expect to get the Look? It doesn’t matter if I have several college degrees, proven administrative credentials, or an impeccable professional career, the Look continues to be impervious to any of our well-earned achievements.

The loss of Black Lives seems endless. I fear that this cycle will continue if America fails to face the need for genuine truth, reconciliation, and days of reckoning. We are sorely in need of a deep healing. If we willingly accept the need for true healing, then we also must listen to the voices of the young. One means is to engage in deep conversations and hear their witness to the national tragedy of too many Black Lives lost.

I find it crazy the police’ll shoot you and know that you dead, but still tell you to freeze.
Messed up, I seen what I seen.
I guess that mean hold him down if he say he can’t breathe.
It’s too many mothers that’s grieving.
They killing us for no reason.

These words come from the rap song, “The Bigger Picture,” by rap artist, Lil Baby. He speaks truth to power. We must listen to the voices of those most oppressed. We must listen to the mothers and the fathers whose sons and daughters are at daily risk because of the melanin in their skin. Our national humanity is at stake! It is time for those in power positions to recognize the injustice that is clear and visible.

Have we become so immune to obvious injustice that even a revealing video is not enough proof of wrongs committed? I urge our elected and designated leaders to listen with a third ear to the words of the oppressed. And I urge everyone who declares that America is great to listen to the words spoken by Jacob Blake’s mother. She said, through tear-filled and swollen eyes, “America is great when we behave great.” Now is the time to behave great! Tomorrow is too late!