Moments before 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was gunned down with his hands up in the air by a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, another officer looking below from a helicopter on a walkie-talkie said that Crutcher — a father of four who was in route home after taking a class at a community college — "looked like a bad dude."
"If I were white, I'd be a millionaire by now." — Finding Strength in my Family's History to Fight for Change
My father's uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. My father's family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. And as a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies.
Since the controversial flood of the #blackouttuesday black squares on Instagram, newly-inspired social media activists have been grappling with how to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement in a productive and authentic way. In addition to protesting, signing petitions, and donating to various organizations, social media has risen as an essential platform to share useful information and promote self-education.
The heartbreaking deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are sadly nothing new for our country, but they have broken the straw on the proverbial camel's back. All of their stories are tragic in their own right, but the match that lit this fire around the world was the public lynching of George Floyd. I heard about the murder before I ever got a chance to see it, and when clips were being shown I could only stand to digest a good five seconds of what was being captured. Despite all this, the most discouraging part about George Floyd's death is the silence from those around me.
As a psychologist — i.e. one who studies the mind and human motivations — my mind periodically returns to Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist who is lovingly known as the father of psychoanalysis, which is the foundation of psychology and the basis of many of the psychological treatments that we use today.
As part of his theory explains, the Oedipus complex is a childhood psychosexual stage, wherein young people harbor unconscious sexual desires that fuel their anxiety and/or frustrations that may, or may not, appear negatively in life — depending upon the successful resolution of this puzzling, internal conflict.
I have periodically come back to this tenet of psychoanalysis, always with the nagging inclination that this somehow explains America's issues with racism
I'm writing this piece on a Thursday night, days after riots and protests erupted following the murder of George Floyd. Posting on social media didn't feel authentic to me. Protesting didn't feel enduring. For me, they both felt like actions that would temporarily make me feel good about myself without any real lasting impact.
It took days to write this because I needed time for the words to catch up with my emotions. Since then, I've had a number of people reach out to me, some with genuine concern for my mental state and others who seemed to be offering a "check the box" gesture. They were mostly all the same in content: "What can I do?" or "If you need to talk or vent, I'm here." Some even expressed how sorry they were for what I must be going through. The problem is, no one should feel sorry for me. No one should feel sorry for Black people.
Risha Grant is an internationally renowned diversity, inclusion and bias expert. She is Founder & CEO of Risha Grant LLC, an award-winning diversity consulting and communications firm, as well as an edgy, educational and motivational speaker, and author of That's BS! How Bias Synapse Disrupts Inclusive Cultures.She covers these topics as NBC KJRH TV News 2 for You's community correspondent, host of the JustUs series, and through her Tulsa World column, Risha Talks. She has been featured in Forbes, The Financial Times, Off Script, Bloomberg Media, Black Enterprise, Radioactive Radio, Take the Lead Radio and WURD Radio among other podcasts, local and national media.
As the Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Marketing at Unilever, Mita's efforts to build an inclusive culture are being celebrated. Under her leadership, Unilever was named the #1 Company for Working Mothers by Working Mother Media in 2018. She also co-created the first of its kind Cultural Immersions series to increase the cultural competency of marketers training over 4,000 marketers to date.
Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is an entrepreneur, business leader, linguaphile, philanthropist, feminist, and mother. After living, studying, and working in five countries across the globe, Liz started TransPerfect out of an NYU dorm room. During her tenure as Co-CEO, she grew TransPerfect into the world's largest language solutions company, with over $600 million in revenue, 4,000+ employees, 11,000+ clients, and offices in more than 90 cities worldwide. Liz has been recognized as a NOW “Woman of Power & Influence", an Enterprising Women “Enterprising Woman of the Year," and one of Forbes' “Richest Self-Made Women."
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