I am shaken.
Even 24 hours after the start of an attempted coup upon our capitol and democracy, I am still struggling to put words to my thoughts and emotions. Like so many of you, I’ve been asking is this even the America I know and love?
I’ve talked to several first-generation Americans – people whose parents moved to the United States to escape the form of extremism and violence on display in Washington. I’ve talked to friends who wondered what the reaction by police would have been had the insurrectionists been Black. I’ve talked to colleagues who never thought something like that could ever happen here.
But my heart aches not because the events felt alien and surreal – but because it was all too real and familiar.
We have seen those faces before – those faces filled with anger and hate, emboldened by generations of privilege and bonded together by vicious acts of violence. We have heard those chants before – when “USA! USA!” is not a patriotic rally cry but is a warning of impending violence. Those are the sights and sounds used to dehumanize others. For people of color and people of difference, yesterday’s events were not just tragic, they were post-traumatic.
I had hoped that a turning of the calendar would mean a quiet return to normalcy, safety, and calm. But this morning I realized that my hope wasn’t naïve, it was wrong. To return to normalcy would be to forget one of the lessons of 2020.
Over the past 12 months, we have collectively experienced a global pandemic, mass protests in the street, a Presidential election stoked by white supremacy. In each instance, we have been reminded how differently communities of color are impacted – in ways that are at times subtle and at times all too clear.
And so, the day after the violent, dehumanizing mob was on full display, how do we use the lessons of the past year to heal from this trauma?
It starts with a community that can see you when you feel invisible, and can hear you when you feel silenced. During these moments, we can never underestimate the impact of a simple gesture of humanity. These gestures can lift us up and keep us moving forward. So please reach out to a friend or colleague. If you’re a Partnership Alum, reach out to a member of your cohort and check-in on them. If you need to reconnect, let us know, and we’ll help you.
Please take care of each other during this moment, and if you have a friend or colleague in need of a greater community, please extend a hand and invite them to Join Us.
All the best,
Pratt N. Wiley
President & CEO