A reflection from our Executive Director on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death
I have been reflecting this week on how social experiences shape so powerfully the way we each think, perceive, expect, and respond. Subjectivity begets our “objective” reality. I wondered why I couldn’t very quickly list many words that capture this phenomenon. I wondered when using a word such as objectivity, does its definition reflect western scientific beliefs that one can be “free from bias?” I wondered -- are we ever?
In my reflection, I turned to the concept of cultural humility. Its tenets strike at the root of this aspect of our human experience. As individuals and groups, it calls us to try to become better at reflecting to understand the influence of our own lived experiences. We intentionally seek to learn to take perspective on how our history and life experiences shape who we are in every moment. Both as individual and in our “collective” lives, can we intentionally seek to learn our “blind spots”: what have we unquestioned/unnamed and also “meme” through expectations influenced by racism, power, and privilege that is endemic to our American experience.
As racism, power, and privilege are aspects of our lived experience, we must challenge ourselves to move beyond this culture being something that happens when we aren’t looking. How can we grow to better understand how these aspects in our human experience shape us – individually and collectively? How might we become more intentional in striving to act consistent with our values to promote equity and justice? If we can’t “escape” our subjectivity, then how can learn to be aware of its meaning/role in our daily life? How might we become better at knowing these aspects of our own selves better, and become more intentional on the units of culture we choose to pass on to another (or to not)?
Striving towards a daily practice of cultural humility is one way that we can continually work against racism, as well as other ways of “othering,” in our culture.
Today marks the one-year date of George Floyd’s murder. 9 minutes and 26 seconds was how long Derek Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck to complete his death. We ask that you find a moment to remember, reflect, and be intentional in what we work to restore, so such an act does not occur. Consider giving ourselves the silence of 9 minutes and 26 seconds, to pause and reflect.
–Ann Marie White, Ed.D.