GlobalGiving CEO Alix Guerrier reflects on George Floyd’s brutal death—what it means for him as a Black person in the U.S. and how he hopes it will inspire collective action to eradicate the oppression of Black Americans.
When I watched the killing of George Floyd on video, it felt like a punch in the stomach. To watch a human life be so callously disregarded is too much to bear. The impact is multiplied by its connection to every other instance of racially-linked brutality. Some are caught on camera and shared with the world, but the vast majority are not.
For me, George Floyd’s brutal death also brings to the surface a constant sense of fear I live with every day as a first-generation American and Black person in the U.S.
In normal times, it is very easy to indulge in a comforting fiction: that we live in a meritocracy, that honest work leads to good consequences, and that though tragedy may always strike, we share a common human vulnerability to it. However, this isn’t the full truth, and the events of the past few weeks have once again painfully pierced this fragile shell of ignorance. The message is clear: if you are a Black person in particular, never get too comfortable.
After all, Christian Cooper wasn’t protected by his Harvard education from being threatened by someone wielding the police as a deadly weapon, any more than Henry Louis Gates had the right to enter his own home without fear of police action. George Floyd’s submission to police direction didn’t prevent an officer from casually kneeling on his neck. The fact that she was asleep in her own home didn’t protect Breonna Taylor from being shot to death. Being unarmed and running away from confrontation didn’t protect Ahmaud Arbery from being murdered by individuals who knew that even in such an egregious case of a modern-day lynching, the system might be tipped in their favor.
Every time I’m served with this reminder, I feel momentarily helpless. No matter how I behave or what I achieve, there’s a gotcha clause in our social contract that applies to me and others like me—an asterisk with a footnote that says if you are a Black person your expectation of physical safety may be rendered null and void at the whim of literally any white person you encounter.
However, I’m not helpless; none of us is. We can act: collectively as in the case of protests, and individually. No one can eradicate the oppression of Black Americans and people of color on their own, but it’s also true that no solution will work without participation from all of us. I would like to share one place to start—please recognize and elevate the tireless work of organizations focused on ending racial injustice.
Here are four partners from the GlobalGiving community with solutions that need your support:
Free Minds uses books and creative writing to empower incarcerated teenage boys in D.C. to transform their lives.
Ms. Foundation for Women
Women and girls of color the United States experience higher rates of interpersonal and institutional violence and sexual violence. The foundation works to end all forms of gender-based violence, especially towards women and girls of color.
Story Tapestries Inc.
Story Tapestries relies on art to expose bias in policing in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia and creates forums for people to share its long-term social and emotional toll.
Gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color, particularly young Black men. Unsilence amplifies the voices of The Sisterhood, a collective of Chicago mothers, all women of color, each of whom has lost a child to gun violence. Through interactive storytelling tours, Unsilence hopes to humanize the issue.
Supporting these and other leading organizations, especially those created and led by Black Americans, is far from the only action one can take. At GlobalGiving, we’ll continue to think of how we can contribute to progress on this issue. As CEO, I’m hopeful about the good we can do. As an individual, my optimism is more measured. This is a long road and even after an exhausting journey, we’re far from the end. It will do us well to be prepared for the struggle yet to come.