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Knowing and Growing Beyond Shame and Blame (3 of 4) | Matters of the Heart

As I was sitting on my couch waiting for the verdict to be read, I was thinking about the few days of testimony that I was able to stomach, mainly from the prosecution side, and a little bit from the defense. And what came to mind was what attorney Blackwell said, about the witnesses representing a bouquet of humanity. And then, of course, came the closing statements.

He said that the reason George Floyd was dead, was not due to his oversized heart, indicating a malformation. But it was due to the small size of Derek Chauvin’s heart.

As I replayed many different words and scenes from the trial in my mind, I noticed my own heart pounding. I noticed myself feeling more and more anxious, and on the verge of tears. And when the first count of guilty and a second count of guilty and the third count of guilty came through, I recall getting texts from a few of my close girlfriends, talking about how justice had finally been served.

Shortly thereafter, Keith Ellison, the Attorney General of Minnesota, was giving remarks, extending appreciation, and making points about the work of this coming generation. And I couldn't help but notice the team that was behind him.

I think approximately half of the team were made up of white males, and the other half of the team were made up of men and women of color. And it just kind of stopped me in my tracks. This is what diversity, inclusion and belonging looks like and should be about. Because unless we can all find the place where we belong, unless we can all find the cause that we belong to, and that we feel belongs to us, there's really no point. There's really no hope unless we can belong to each other. And unless we can find the cause to which we all belong.

How do we get there? I believe we start with knowing ourselves, getting to know others, learning more about how exclusion and oppression operate every day, consciously and unconsciously – even how we are participating in it ourselves. Then we need to face our own blaming and shaming that we do – of ourselves and of others. And then move into growing ourselves and others beyond that shame and blame through new attitudes, behaviors and beliefs.

After the verdicts were read, I took a long walk and thought deeply about why we are here. It's called the human race for a reason. And yes, we all start at different places, much like a track meet. But the hope is that eventually, at some point in the race, when everything is even, everyone has a chance to win. But we're not talking about winning in a competitive nature where one race of people is held down, so that another race of people can continue to progress. We’re talking about winning as a collaborative and inclusive team of humans, working together to get everyone across the finish line feeling good.

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