2020 Issue 13 • Jun 7

 
Company Statement regarding George Floyd and incidents of police brutality

The Shift Network is a transformational educational company committed to creating a better world, one in which racism, injustice, and prejudice have no place.

Thus, we stand unequivocally with those who have been oppressed, particularly those of Black and African descent who have long faced unequal treatment, police brutality, and systemic injustice.

Enough is enough. It was never in any way acceptable, and can no longer be tolerated to violently oppress, marginalize, or diminish others based upon race, culture, or membership in any group. We cannot solve the considerable challenges we face when we do not have the genius of all people at the table. It’s time to make appropriate amends and reparations for the past and to forge stronger partnerships to create a world that works for all. 

To our BIPOC community members, we see you, hear you, respect you, and acknowledge the struggles you’ve had to face and the obstacles you’ve had to surmount. We also honor your diversity of experiences — your joy, creative expression, and grief — as acts of resistance and resilience. We recognize that your hard-earned wisdom is essential now. 

To our white community members, we honor any ways that you’ve attempted to undo centuries of white supremacy programming within yourself and your community, and invite you to make a still deeper commitment to go further in your listening, your unraveling of old programming, and your actions of support.

We recognize the necessity of transforming not just our consciousness, but the societal, institutional, and cultural conditions that have actively created unjust systems — and we commit ourselves to working as an organization to raise awareness, change laws, and shift beliefs, behaviors, and patterns of culture that contribute to oppression. We commit to being a company that embraces diversity, inclusion, and equity. 

We don’t pretend to be experts, but are committed to the journey and to working alongside the millions of allies who refuse to be silent or complicit in any way. We acknowledge the deep suffering behind the current wave of protests, and will do our part to bridge divides, create opportunities, call out abuse, and end oppression in all its forms. 

May we approach this time as one in which we bear witness to the surfacing of long-festering traumas, mourn the loss of Black and Brown lives, and move forward with healing, increased understanding, and a commitment to redesign our world in a just and equitable way. 

As a company, we are:

  • Creating a special Transforming Racism series starting June 8 featuring more than two dozen experts
  • Refocusing our Summer of Peace dialogue series on Facebook Live towards the work of racial healing and navigating this crisis with empathy, compassion, and an unyielding commitment to justice
  • Taking our staff through a program to help us better understand white privilege and white fragility so that we as an organization are better equipped to carry on the work of eradicating racism and facilitating meaningful and lasting change
  • Making philanthropic contributions to organizations as a way to advance cultural healing

A Message from Guest Editor Mutima Imani

In this special edition, you’ll find articles from various media sources that tell the story of what’s happening in response to the murder of George Floyd and the killing of Black people in the United States by police violence. Thousands of people across the U.S and from 18 countries defied the pandemic ban to show solidarity and protest against U.S. police violence, which has killed countless Black people without consequence.

These last few weeks, starting May 25, can be seen as a great turning point in history as people unite in protest, chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “I can't breathe,” “Racism chokes us,” “We are George Floyd,” and more. A young Black mother wrote a song for her son to sing ("I Just Want to Live"), and people who have been silenced for so long have come forth, affirming “Enough is enough.” The controversy over taking a knee has been replaced by almost universal solidarity.

Take your time as you read this special edition to absorb its full impact. Please breathe through all the feelings that will come up, whatever they are, to understand the raw anger and rage that rapper and actor LL Cool J powerfully expresses in his video below.

Historically, the decks have been stacked against Black people; Black Americans have been living a nightmare, with the American dream out of reach. In his article from The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, provides a historical overview of how Black Americans got labeled dangerous and violent.

We are now being called to use our moral imagination to come together to heal the past and correct the problems of disparity and injustices that have created conditions that have compromised the safety and wellbeing of Black lives. A new day has come, and people all over the world are now proudly joining their voices with millions of others, declaring unequivocally that "Black Lives Matter.”

Mutima Imani is a social justice visionary, master trainer, and facilitator working to heal the heart of humanity by providing 21st-century tools for personal and professional development and transformation. To watch Mutima’s new video interview with Philip Hellmich, Shift’s Global Peace Ambassador, on race, healing, and justice, click here.

 

This Newsweek pictorial article is a powerful testimony that people all over the world are out in the streets demonstrating their support for justice in the name of George Floyd and all those who have died as a result of police brutality.


 


We’d like to hear your answer to the question, What actions are you taking to contribute to racial healing and justice? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
 


I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action. I have no interest in passive empathy.
— Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
 

 

One Voice, One Song of Heartbreak, and the Power of the Truth
Published in American Songwriter

The power of song in action: one mother’s song sung a capella by her 12-year old son, Keedron Bryant, with a message chilling in its simplicity, “I Just Want To Live.” His mother Johnetta Bryant wrote the words in the aftermath of the outrage and ensuing riots resulting from the killing of George Floyd. Her son, Keedron, sang it with all his heart, and its impact was almost immediate. Suddenly there were over three million views on Instagram, as many luminaries responded and also shared it, including Barack Obama, Janet Jackson, Lebron James, and others.

To watch Will.i.am’s remix of Keedron Bryant's “I Just Wanna Live,” click here.
To watch a follow-up interview with Keedron and his mother, complete with a surprise appearance by a gospel superstar, click here.

 

Riots, Racism & Reproach… Is Racial Healing Still Possible?
By Rev. Aliah K. MaJon, PhD

But… although these powerful protests send a strong, clear, and poignant message that enough is enough, protests do not provide the means for genuine, effective, and sustainable Racial Healing to unfold — they only let us know that healing needs to happen. And, because of where we find ourselves in this moment in time, someone recently asked me if I still thought that Racial Healing was possible? My answer is a resounding "YES!" To read more, click here.

To watch Aliah's new video interview with Philip Hellmich, Shift’s Global Peace Ambassador, on riots, racism, and reproach, click here.

 

Anguish and Action: President Obama Participates in Virtual Town Hall on 'Mental Health and Wellness in a Racism Pandemic'

President Obama joined Congressman John Lewis, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson, Writer and Survivor of Police Brutality Leon Ford, Jr., and Youth Leader LeQuan Muhammad, in a conversation moderated by Activist and Author Darnell Moore. To watch this 59-minute video, click here.


Click here to watch a 77-minute video featuring President Obama participating in another virtual Town Hall, "Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence."

 

Why You Need to Stop Saying "All Lives Matter"
By Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
Published in Harper’s Bazaar

If a patient being rushed to the ER after an accident were to point to their mangled leg and say, “This is what matters right now,” and the doctor saw the scrapes and bruises of other areas and countered, “but all of you matters,” wouldn’t there be a question as to why he doesn't show urgency in aiding that what is most at risk? At a community fundraiser for a decaying local library, you would never see a mob of people from the next city over show up angry and offended yelling, “All libraries matter!”—especially when theirs is already well-funded. To read more, click here.
 

  
Demonstrators lay down on Pennsylvania Avenue during a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images.) To read more about this powerful protest, click here.
 
  
 

Washington DC Paints a Giant 'Black Lives Matter' Message on the Road to the White House
By AJ Willingham of CNN

Washington DC is painting a message in giant, yellow letters down a busy DC street ahead of a planned protest this weekend: BLACK LIVES MATTER. The massive banner-like project spans two blocks of 16th Street, a central axis that leads southward straight to the White House. Each of the 16 bold, yellow letters spans the width of the two-lane street, creating an unmistakable visual easily spotted by aerial cameras and virtually anyone within a few blocks. To read more, click here.

 

The American Nightmare
By Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University
Published in The Atlantic

A nightmare is essentially a horror story of danger, but it is not wholly a horror story. Black people experience joy, love, peace, safety. But as in any horror story, those unforgettable moments of toil, terror, and trauma have made danger essential to the black experience in racist America. What one black American experiences, many black Americans experience. Black Americans are constantly stepping into the toil and terror and trauma of other black Americans. Black Americans are constantly stepping into the souls of the dead. Because they know: They could have been them; they are them. Because they know it is dangerous to be black in America, because racist Americans see blacks as dangerous. To read more, click here.

  
George Floyd's murder and Colin Kaepernick protesting against police brutality. To read more about the ironic juxtaposition of two men kneeling, click here.
 
  
 

LL Cool J Raps About George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

Rapper and actor LL Cool J unleashed a compelling rap video addressing the death of George Floyd, the week of protests that followed, and alleged police brutality against the black community.

To watch this 3-minute video, click here.

Mutima recommends this video to develop your capacity to witness the full emotions that have been unleashed in this moment, and so that we can bear sacred witness to the depths of the anguish long endured by the Black community. (Contains strong language.)

 

 

We need to #SayHerName: Happy birthday, Breonna Taylor
By John Legend, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and philanthropist

  

Breonna Taylor (from her Instagram account)
 

  

Breonna should be celebrating her 27th birthday today. Like so many Black women, she was an essential worker, an emergency medical technician, the kind of first responder we depend on to save lives during this ongoing pandemic. She had planned on becoming a nurse and dreamed of being a wife and mother. She was on her path. But after midnight on March 13, officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department barged into her apartment, fired off more than 20 bullets, eight of which ultimately took Breonna's life. They had the wrong home and an illegal no-knock search warrant. To read more, click here.

 

 

Michael Jordan on 'Ingrained Racism' in America: 'We Have Had Enough'

NBA legend Michael Jordan issued a statement Sunday on the ongoing and widespread protests across the United States. To read his statement and the accompanying Sports Illustrated article, click here.

 

LeBron James Responds to Laura Ingraham’s ‘Shut Up and Dribble’ With Powerful Post About Police Brutality

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James posted a 28-second video to his social media page that repurposes the infamous quote "shut up and dribble" into a powerful message on police brutality. (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.) To read more, click here.

 

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism
Dr. Robin DiAngelo explains why white people implode when talking about race
Published in The Good Men Project

Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we are either not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We experience a challenge to our racial worldview as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges our sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense. To read more, click here. For a Q&A with Robin, click here.

 

Four Run-Ins With the Police
Video stories by Amber Ruffin

Amber Ruffin, a comedian and writer, has been a writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers since 2014. When she joined the show, she became the first black woman to write for a late-night network talk show in the United States. On Monday through Thursday of this week, she opened the show by sharing a run-in with the police that almost certainly would not have happened had she been white: Driving as a Teen / Skipping in Chicago / When I Tell You to Stop, You Stop / It’s a New Day

 

James Corden Gets a Lesson on White Privilege

Olivia Harewood, another black female writer on a late-night talk show, humorously schools James Corden on the nature of white privilege. She explains how James's inherited privilege is a tool that he and other white people can use for good. To watch this 5-minute video, click here.

 

A Moving “Praytest” in Houston

White parishioners kneel to black parishioners to apologize for generations of racism and injustice during a “praytest” Sunday. Hundreds united in solidarity at the Cuney Homes basketball courts in Houston's Third Ward where George Floyd grew up playing hoops. (Photo credit: Fox 26 News in Houston.) To watch this 2-minute video, click here.

 

Prayer for Black Life and Social Change

This prayer is offered by Reverend Deborah Lee, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity's Executive Director — praying for George Floyd, Black life, and social change. To watch this 6-minute video, click here.

 

Your Voice:

We want to know: What actions are you taking to contribute to racial healing and justice? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.

 

The OFFICIAL Peace and Healing for Darnella Fund

There is a cost to the whistle blowers, those who bear witness to brutality, record it, and tell the world. It's a price paid in mental and emotional (and sometimes also physical) safety and wellbeing. Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old young woman who recorded the critical video of George Floyd's killing, must not be another casualty of this event. She is a child, and her witnessing was a service of incalculable magnitude to all of us. Please take a moment to support and share this fund. It is dedicated to Darnella's healing and wellness. Click here to make a donation.

 

Crowdfunding Sites for Victims Whose Lives Were Taken by Police

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Donation to Ahmaud Arbery’s Family

Donation to Breonna Taylor’s Family

Here’s Where You Can Donate to Help Protests Against Police Brutality
Bail funds, legal aid, and other organizations working to help activists seeking justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence

 

You’ll find more resources and information here and in the “Healing and Justice” section of future issues of Catalyst.

 

 
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