Dear George Floyd,
I owe you an apology.
I spent so many years doing what I thought was helping people with my work in government and politics and I was tired.
I was tired of the anger and meanness and conflict and the non-stop division and partisanship and ideological divide.
I saw you and I saw how much you were suffering but I was weary of your suffering and everybody else’s suffering.
I gave up.
I hung up any real engagement in the world around me.
Yes, I have been leading a non-profit helping a lot of people the past 8 years and for that I am grateful for my ability to help others who need help.
As for politics and government, I simply walked away from it.
After more than three decades of it all I felt I had done my part and it was time for others to do their part.
It wasn’t that seeing your video changed me. I’ve seen other video of suffering. I’ve seen pictures.
I have seen people in front of me, beside me and behind me who needed me not to walk away.
I see the poverty of communities all around me.
The lost hope. The dying hope. The never-had-hope.
What changed me wasn’t seeing you die.
What changed was I didn’t see you live.
What changed me was seeing that I didn’t do anything to help save you.
I could have. So could a lot of others.
Long before you found your life slip away under the knee of a police officer who was sworn to protect and serve you.
My white privilege isn’t that I didn’t see or hear your suffering.
My white privilege is that I chose to ignore that I had the ability to help stop it.
I don’t need to read books on racial injustice or listen to a podcast about how my white privilege doesn’t allow me to understand the suffering you experienced on the hard asphalt of a Minneapolis road.
I don’t need to shut up and listen or give space to the voices of the oppressed or repressed.
There’s not a meme in the world that I can post that will do anything other than make me feel that I spoke up and said something and now I can go back to doing what I was doing before I made that insincere gesture to act like I did something.
The worst part of white privilege is acting as though acknowledging it publicly and on social media is a badge of honor.
There is smugness in the white privilege acknowledgement.
That smugness should have died with your last breath on Earth.
Here’s the thing.
I could have done something.
I can apologize.
I can also stop talking and listening.
I can do something.
I am done standing on the sidelines of government and politics anymore.
I will find candidates to support again and work to help elect them to public office.
I’m going to get behind police and criminal justice reforms and find a way to make sure they are being implemented into policy and then executed by action.
I’m going to dust-off three decades of knowing how to pull the levers of power and influence and find meaningful ways to engage in efforts to create hope, restore hope and build hope in neighborhoods.
I’m going to remember that feeling nearly 40 years ago when I stepped into my first precinct caucus and walked out believing I had the power to change the world.
The feeling that I had the power to make a difference in the lives of people in my community, my country, and my world.
I will speak out. Speak up. Be heard. Be seen.
When I need to listen, I will do so.
But the impatience of my youth has now been replaced by the impatience of a man who has been there and seen that.
I won’t heed the lecture that change takes time.
I’ve given that lecture myself too many times.
I know better.
Change doesn’t take time.
Change takes change.
Your death shouldn’t have had to have meaning that your life hadn’t already had on the world.
I want you to know that I will do now what I should have been doing all along to try to give meaning to your death that I should have given to your life.
And, I am going to remember your name.
Not because buildings and property and lives were destroyed in your name.
But because the world can, must and has to be a better place in your name.