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June 5, 2020

In recognition of the memorial services for George Floyd, the NAACP declared yesterday, June 4th, a National Day of Mourning. Let’s not forget the 35 other black men, women and children whose deaths were the result of systemic racism and helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.

Trayvon Martin  ∙ Yvette Smith ∙  Eric Garner ∙ Michael Brown ∙ Laquan McDonald ∙ Tanisha Anderson ∙  Akai Gurley ∙ Tamir Rice  ∙  Jerame Reid  ∙ Natasha McKenna  ∙  Eric Harris  ∙  Walter Scott  ∙  Freddie Gray ∙ William Chapman ∙  Sandra Bland  ∙ Darrius Stewart  ∙  Samuel DuBose  ∙  Janet Wilson  ∙ Calin Roquemore  ∙  Alton Sterling ∙  Philando Castile ∙  Joseph Mann ∙  Terence Crutcher ∙ Chad Robertson  ∙  Jordan Edwards ∙  Aaron Bailey ∙  Stephon Clark ∙  Danny Ray Thomas ∙  Antwon Rose  ∙  Botham Jean ∙  Atatiana Jefferson  ∙  Michael Dean  ∙  Ahmaud Arbery  ∙  Breonna Taylor ∙ George Floyd

When we encourage our people to “bring their authentic selves to work” we must remember that this includes acknowledging how their lives are impacted outside the office. Black and brown people have not only watched their friends and family members die at higher rates from the coronavirus, they have also watched people who look like them gunned down while going for a jogmurdered in their homesthreatened while birdwatching in Central Park, and ruthlessly choked on camera. It is not enough to acknowledge these horrific events; we must do the work to understand the damage of generations of racism that led up to them.

For those who don’t have friends, family or close members of your networks who are black, you may not know how difficult this time is for the community.  The anguish associated with racism, we understand is real, and seeing pictures and video of black people being killed is even more traumatic and cumulative. For many, the current events in the United States are experienced as clinical-level trauma. Research shows that when people of color see these images, they internalize them – they see themselves, their friends, their family.

We understand that some may not know what to say during this time of collective mourning.  Acknowledging that this is happening, and telling someone you want to stand beside them, we believe will go a long way. And your silence will be felt in ways that you could not imagine. If you find yourself unable to find the words, below are two statements which can help.

  • “I won’t pretend to know what you’re experiencing during this time of racial injustice, but I want to let you know that I stand beside you  – I am here to talk if it would help.”
  • “I want you to know that I care about issues of racial injustice and how they impact you, and our community.  Please know that I am here if you need me.”

For those looking to learn more, a great place to start is the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Talking about Race – https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race. This web-based initiative uses videos, role-playing exercises and question-based activities to explore the origins and definitions of race and identity. Built on the museum’s long-standing educational work, the project was released Sunday to respond to the current crisis.

For our black colleagues, it’s critical to take the time to care for yourself – https://in.mashable.com/social-good/14508/13-mental-health-resources-for-black-people-trying-to-cope-right-now.

This is not the end of the conversation, but the start of our journey toward a more just, accepting and equitable existence for people of color.

Jeffrey R. Keitelman, Co-Managing Partner

Alan M. Klinger, Co-Managing Partner

Yakiry M. Adal, Director of Talent & Inclusion