George Floyd's death pulls back the curtain on deep pain in our nation. The complete disregard for human life by someone in a position of power at a time when so much meaningful work is being done to stop just that. Seems to be the theme of our time.
Police officers were my superheroes. They were a force for good during violence in my childhood home. The trauma my sister and I experienced in white suburbia happened behind close doors in secret. The police always showed up and made us safe. My sister is now one of those superheroes. Someone who shows up to work everyday with a deep mission to help and be her best. Someone who cares.
Suffering has a way of making one sensitive to the suffering of others: we hear the screams that others don't. It comes from a deep need for community and belonging, a search for meaning. The black community is rich with that meaning. Through headphones sitting on the edge of my high school bed, black music cut through and gave me a sense of community. The stories of hardship and triumph helped me make sense of what was going on. Black leadership provided a model for me to be a better man. The black community's enduring lessons of leadership are of our nation's greatest assets. We are stronger for it.
My suffering was different and I have privileges others don't. I'll never fully understand black pain. Black America has been brutalized by the police and I will never know what that is like. I won't know what its like to fear for my life while the police are near. But I do know that leadership matters, particularly now. And we need more leaders. The police need more leaders. Applications are at their lowest ever.
There's a great deal that needs to be changed, but leaders like my sister give me hope. Leaders who are on that mission and are tuned in to what's going on. Leaders who hear those screams.
This is a time when we need more leaders joining the police, not less. If not, who fills that position?
Originally published on Medium on May 31, 2020.