I reacted with horror and shock to the video of a police officer murdering George Floyd.
That’s not a phrase anyone should ever have to read, and it certainly shouldn’t be something any eye scans without it being shocking. Yet, after the last week, it’s the easiest sentence I’ve ever penned, which is why this is the hardest post I’ve ever written.
I’m struggling with what, exactly, to say and do. Even writing a post like this poses complex questions and a dilemma that has no clear answers. The truth is that in this exact moment, no one needs to hear what I think or what my reaction is to the events unfolding in the United States. You certainly don’t need to hear me say sincere but easy statements that offer no real solace. And there are many more qualified than I who we all need to be listening to right now, such as the Toronto Star’s Shree Paradkar.
I’ve read comments and statements like my first line hundreds of times in the past few days, as every part of my network expresses a commitment to stand beside, walk with, and take a knee for communities in pain and grief. I see the outpouring of attention and hope that, in this moment, no one feels alone.
However, it’s important to remember that there’s a weight not just to this moment, but also to the next. What happens in the coming weeks and months when attention wanes and Black and other marginalized communities are once again left on their own to fight systemic barriers? I have unshakable faith that, at specific moments, humanity rises to the occasion to support one another. Unfortunately, I also have an equally strong certainty that, when the initial crisis has passed, many won’t stay on for the hard work that comes next.
So, in the past week, I’ve stepped back. I’ve written less. I’ve said less. But I worry that this stepping back might be perceived as stepping away. And that’s not true at all.
My friend Rabbi Yael Splansky captured the crux of my dilemma perfectly when she made these remarks at an interfaith vigil in Toronto last Saturday:
“…Dr. King taught us that ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’. So here I am. But the truth is silence seems best. There are no words. We are dumbstruck today. But God forbid our silence be misunderstood as indifference. Holocaust survivor and justice activist Elie Weisel famously said: ‘The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference’.”
As a team, Challenge Factory is listening to all the voices who need to be heard and watching for when our colleagues’ strength begins to falter and attention wane. We know this phase is coming and that our action then will be more meaningful than any simple words offered today.
I may be quiet, but I am here. And so is Challenge Factory.