Hightower: Horror can’t be unseen. Racial justice call strong 3 years after George Floyd’s murder
By Stephanie Hightower
Columbus Dispatch Guest Columnist
Today marks the third anniversary of the passing of George Floyd, a date and event that I can never forget. Similar to a childhood memory of hearing my mother cry out when she watched President Kennedy’s assassination nearly sixty years ago, I experience an immediate and vivid emotional response to “I can’t breathe.”
The lesson I try to take from these and other violent tragedies is that our losses can and should deepen our empathy and compassion for one another. Black, white, brown—we share a common understanding of grief and a collective commitment to use the depths of our loss to catapult us to a better place.
We can’t “unsee” moments of horror. We can only look for how they impact our views and the ways we work together to create a better world.
How has our perspective shifted over the last three years?
— Racial injustice again became a focal point. For example, a recent national survey by Edelman found that about 60% of Americans said they would not work for a company that didn’t stand up for racial equity. This means the eyes of our workforce read a lot more than a LinkedIn profile when choosing future employers.
— All sectors will be questioned. It’s not just government and private sector entities that have encountered greater scrutiny. In the nonprofit world, many funders and donors re-examined and revised their strategies to correct “philanthropic red-lining” where black-led organizations received fewer overall funds and significantly less general operating dollars. According to a 2020 report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, only 1% of grantmaking from the 25 key philanthropic funders was specifically designated for Black communities in 2016-2018, even though a combined 15% of these cities’ populations are Black.
— Likewise, all sectors will face skepticism when awareness fails to lead to action. In that same Edelman poll, a nearly equal number of people, 62%, rated companies as “mediocre or worse” on following through on a commitment to address racism in the workplace and community. Similarly, an update to NCRP’s report on community funding demonstrated that support for black-led organizations doubled between 2018-2020, but that meant only progressing from 1 to 2.4%.
For your Columbus Urban League, the past three years have been a whirlwind. We helped keep 1,975 families in their homes through rental and housing assistance, put 900 teens in internships to gain real world experience and a paycheck, boosted 9,861 Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and so much more.
- Black Father-Daughter Dance chance to make memories
- Father-daughter dance ‘the crown jewel’ of Black Girl Dad Week, Feb. 12-18
- Dispatch Guest Column: Stop ‘cancelling’ others. It’s time to rise above mistrust, open our minds and listen.
- Columbus Urban League planning to continue program to help youths stay out of crime
- Columbus looks to strengthen its neighborhood violence prevention program