My city. My story. My pain, my joy, and my hope.
The murder of George Floyd has shifted our world. Thousands, perhaps millions of stories have been shared detailing the impact his death has had on us as individuals, communities, organizations, cities, and countries around the world. Living in Minneapolis just a couple of miles from where George Floyd was murdered, has impacted me deeply and daily. I dare not go back to relive the trauma of his death. I can clearly recall what I was doing when I heard the news. The pain sits in a capsule for now. Because surviving means sometimes you place trauma in a container. I work hard every day to fill that container with belief and hope as our city continues to heal. I now intentionally center my work in joy and peace. This is how I serve. This is how I protest.
What I will share are the ways I’ve engaged in my work and life, to honor George Floyd’s legacy and to honor others who tirelessly work to manifest equity and equality in our spaces. We must always find a way to hope because without hope despair takes root. Without hope, it is impossible to believe.
POSTME (Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology and Military Equipment)
On February 12, 2021, the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban the use of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) here in Minneapolis. I am a founding member of POSTME, a coalition formed in April of 2020 to work on advocating for transparency, oversight, accountability, and equity in the use of technology by the city of Minneapolis. Following the murder of George Floyd, our work with POSTME became particularly motivated by an urging in accountability in how law enforcement uses AI enabled tools at their disposal. The ban on FRT is our first successful effort in addressing an increase in surveillance. Without transparency, purpose and input from society, surveillance is not safe. Surveillance can perpetuate invasive techniques which cause more harm than good. Technology should bring us together. Until it does, I’ll continue to find ways to bring awareness to the mounting threats biased technology levies on communities of color and vulnerable populations.
George Floyd on the Lake –Young Men Follow
Minneapolis is a city full of beautiful lakes. In July 2019, I participated in my first Regatta on Lake Bde Maka Ska as a member of the Minneapolis Sailing Center. A month later, George Floyd sailed on the same lake as a guest of one of our members.
The Minneapolis Sailing Center wrote an incredible piece calling for justice for George Floyd while also reflecting on the history of racism in sailing clubs across our country. I was so moved I began to think, wouldn’t it be great to find a way to get youth out on the water to experience sailing for the first time like George? With support from the Minneapolis Sailing Center and an idea, I responded to a request from the founder of the Doorstep Foundation Andre McNeal, asking the community for help in engaging young men. The Doorstep Foundation is a mentoring group committed to changing the lives of youth in schools and in the community. I could not be more excited to share, the vision is happening. Next month, 30 young men and their families will get to spend an entire day enjoying the same experience as George. We are preparing a few historical lessons for the youth while they enjoy their sailing adventures. I’m extremely proud to serve my community by believing, hoping, and acting in ways which support educational and leadership development opportunities.
The time to believe is always. I will always imagine a world where businesses, governments, academia, and society can interact in ways where we can all advance and thrive. This is my hope, and this is my belief.