As we witnessed the worldwide avalanche of demonstrations in the aftermath of the murder of Mr. George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police force in the USA, I had intended to write a Blog this week on "Stimulating a Worldwide Response to the Pain of being Black in America." However, I recalled correspondence sent to me by my Granddaughter, Chelsea and her Dad/my son, Abi. Their testimonials are the main features of this Blog. They assist more than any analysis I could have proffered in helping us to understand the lingering pain of experiencing injustices and the need for taking action now. The statement from Patrick Gordon, nephew and young advocate for the welfare of underserved youth advocates for harnessing the power to create change, banishing silence which comes from a place of fear and taking action that comes from a place of Love. In addition, the video clip sent to me by my colleague and friend, Prof. Compton Bourne, is an essential part of this blog. It shows his granddaughter, Darcy, leading a demonstration in London, England, that drew nationwide and worldwide attention and support. Darcy's and Chelsea's bold activism added to Patrick Gordon advocacy for change, give meaning to 'youth- taking action' and the hope for a future of Justice for All.
Letter from Chelsea Greene to the Principal and Staff of her All Girls Catholic High School in New Jersey and to Colleagues, Friends and Family
Hi Everyone, June 4, 2020
I just wanted to share the words that I sent to my high school due to their lack of response and the silencing of Black students. Many of our comments were removed from posts and they have yet to acknowledge anything that has been said on social media from their Alumni. Alumni of my high school and current students have finally decided to speak out against the school as their lack of support is now public. Alum from 2001, 1998, 2016, and more have shared their stories. Statements have been sent in by Black Alum, including one who currently is the only Black person on their alumni board.
We are still waiting on a response to any and all comments made. According to a friend whose mother is currently the president of the board, Sister Fran (the principal) said she has no plans on addressing us.
My name is Chelsea Greene and I am an alum from the Class of 2016. I'm reaching out to again share the statements made by myself and many other Black alums. Many of us faced discrimination from faculty, staff, and students at The Mount. I can say for myself; I am still processing the horrible things my friends and I experienced during our time. High School is a very important time in a young woman's life and what I learned in that time is that my skin color and what people thought of it always went over who I was as a person. Things were allowed to happen to Black students that would never happen to White students. Yesterday, my friend, Jeana Henderson, and I were extremely disappointed, but not surprised by the school's silence on what was happening in our country. Your alumni were looking for you, your current Black students were looking for you.
I can say for myself, that yesterday was the most therapeutic way of processing just a part of what I experienced. While I was there and spoke out about these issues, I was ignored by faculty, and bullied by classmates (called a liar, a horrible role model, and more). I wanted the sisterhood that was on every poster and an ad but never got it until now. I found sisterhood in the Black Alums sharing their stories of discrimination. I found sisterhood in current Black students messaging me and sharing their stories.
We are looking for you. We are looking to see you turn a new leaf. Leaving these comments unaddressed will continue to prove that Black students are not supported at this school. Your core values are "pride diversity and inclusion", but we have never seen them. Start the change. We begged for a change in 2016 and women before us probably did the same. I can only speak for myself, but I know some teachers want to do the work. Allow them. They are crucial to making the change. I know from my experience I can say that Ms. Zosche was a teacher that can help with this change. She was a crucial part of my high school experience. I know that she wanted to do the work. need everyone (board, administration, faculty, staff, any person involved, and connected to the school) to read every word. Read every word. Read the experience. Read the truth. Read the words of students.
Comments made and stories shared are included on my Facebook page
Your students. Your sisterhood.
Response to Chelsea from her Dad Abi Greene June 4, 2020
This is powerful and well said. I am sorry that you experienced this trauma. I am so proud of the person you are today and what you have accomplished while facing these obstacles. You gave me the strength to open up on a company forum and talk about my experiences with law enforcement since I moved to this country. Below is my email to my team inspired by you:
Love you always
Testimonial from Abi to the Team of Technology/Engineering Systems Designers he leads at a Financial Company in New York
Hi Team June 4, 2020
I just wanted to reach out and apologize for not being fully committed this week as I have been unable to focus. The incident that happened to George Floyd caused old wounds to resurface which I thought were a thing of the past. As a young college student (New York) doing everything right, I was removed from a bus and placed in handcuffs for running to catch that same bus to get to class. The explanation was that running with a big backpack full of books seemed suspicious. From that point on, I cut up my textbooks and only carried the chapters needed for class, stopped wearing hats, and made sure that my winter coats never had a hood. Needless to say, there were more encounters. The irony of this all is that I am alive today because of a good police officer who did everything to stop his partner from shooting me because I matched the description of an African-American FIVE FEET ELEVEN INCH male with a gun.* What happened to George Floyd brought the memories of steering into the gun and the police officer’s fingers on the trigger while clenching his lips in anticipation of the recoil, his partner screaming at the top of his lungs stand down, don’t shoot. I never reported any of my incidents out of fear and thinking what’s the use. My silence brings a great deal of guilt as possibly I could have been a voice for George Floyd and so many who have perished for being a person of color.
Again I apologize and am trying desperately to refocus
* Abi is 5feet 6.1/2inches
Patrick Gordon Co-founder and Executive Director | YES Initiative
Dear YES Community,
I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts regarding the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. I do not want to recite a standard corporate statement which looks good on social media, I want to tell you how I feel.
My heart has been bleeding and crying for my people these past few weeks. The pain of seeing someone that could be me, my mother or my niece. I have experienced every emotion from grief and anger to optimism and courage. But even now, when I feel most disillusioned with the notion of progress towards racial and social equality, I find hope. How? Because I choose to have hope. My mom said it well: “As a Black people in America, hope is all we have. If you’re not going to hope and keep fighting for a better future, you might roll over and go six feet under.” While the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are at the forefront of the news cycle, the protests are not just for them. This is why the conversation will continue. A 400+ year old problem cannot be solved with a few kind statements, money committed to fighting systemic racism, or changes in legal policies. It will take all of those elements and more, but most important it requires individuals to commit to changing actions and perspectives. It requires engaging in hard conversations, it requires sacrifice. Why do I choose hope? I choose to keep moving forward for our scholars who I love as if they were my younger siblings. I choose to keep going for my 2 year old niece Alex, My 8 month old nephew Deven, and my 2 day old nephew Taylor. Hell yes I am scared. I cannot bear the thought of losing one of them to an act of racist violence — but I will not let fear rule my actions. Now, now is the time to stand tall. To have courage, conviction, to be willing to do what is required of leaders, and we are all leaders. I believe every single person is a leader because there is at least one person in the world who will take your opinion to heart and truly listen. I believe in times of crisis it is simple, we either choose fear or we choose love. Accept the power you have to create change, there are people who will listen to you that will not listen to me, conversations you can have I cannot hear, spaces you will be in I will never walk in, take responsibility and be willing to do not what is easy but what is right. Get into action in your own circle, your own community, you don’t have to look much farther than what and who is immediately in front of you. Silence comes from a place of fear, Action comes from a place of Love - choose Love.
Darcy Bourne Leading a demonstration in London and Inspiring the World
Darcy’s leadership and her slogan “Why is Ending Racism a Debate?” has now gone viral in the United Kingdom and other countries. It is being promoted by models, movie stars, pop artists and sports stars around the world. These include footballers, David Beckham and Nikita Parris; athlete, Dana Asher-Smith; and formula 1 Champion, Lewis Hamilton. “Why is Ending Racism a Debate ?”is a profound question, perhaps, the most pertinent. it is inspiringly bold. Small wonder it has been posted in almost all the British newspapers, carried in news releases around the World, posted in British Vogue with other photographs on its Instagram. The image has also been tweeted by Malcom Luther King III, son of the late civil rights activist. Eighteen year -old Darcy Bourne is a member of the English under 21 English Hockey team in which few young blacks participate and indeed only four black women have represented Great Britain at the senior level. Darcy makes the point that the photographs of her slogan captivating the world "shows that no matter how big your platform is you can make a difference" . She certainly is.
Darcy Bourne, Chelsea Greene and Patrick Gordon
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.