The story of this beautiful mural in Minneapolis to honor and commemorate the life that once flowed through George Floyd reminds us how critical it is that we never stop finding community -- to uphold our family, friends and neighbors who uphold us everyday. The hopeful spirit of the small writing on the wall -- “I can breathe now” -- has time and again faded to disappointment, despair and anger as these “spotlight” moments move on as quickly as the news cycles; the specter of yet another drive-by give-a-d*mn terrifies me. Yet, there is a level of sincerity and vigilance in the air this time around that does give me the option of hope from which to choose. That’s what I’m doing in order to charge forward -- I hope you can choose hope too.
Earlier this week, I sent a version of the text below to our team at Landed. Please read it and reflect on why honoring and protecting black lives is important to you and your community, too. As a black American human, a lot right now feels very personal to me. But then I remember: it’s not all about me. This moment is a reflection on all humans, and it requires all of us to really believe that, and act accordingly.
I hope you’ll join me and our team at Landed in finding ways to act. Go here if you’re looking for a place to get started. And, as you learn more and dig deeper, don’t be afraid of the discomfort! It’s really the only way you grow! Over the next several weeks, you’ll hear from various voices on our blog from the Landed team and community to keep the conversation and focus going.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Steven Taylor, Tony McDade, Michael Brown, the unnamed... wherever you are, I hope you can breathe.
One thing that has remained unwaveringly true at Landed from the beginning is our team’s steadfast belief in the interconnected nature of all humans and the systems (economic, social, etc) that these humans create and participate in. COVID-19 reinforced this belief by seeing how quickly both the spread of a disease, and a response to that disease, can happen (thank you interwebs!).
Because of our steadfast belief in the interconnectedness and interdependence of us all, we also recognize that violence towards any one of us is violence towards all of us. With violence comes destruction, the opposite of being able to uphold one another. The violence that has been continuously inflected on black, brown and other marginalized communities in America has prevented us from truly upholding each other, really, ever, in this country. The destructive forces that explode as a result of reaching a breaking point in anger as a response to age-old institutionalized racism in communities across the country will, if unaddressed, cease to do their productive job of drawing attention to what must change and only further inhibit our ability to uphold one another. The only chance we have of long-term healing and change is a collective awakening in the wake of this tension and destruction. That will take work by you, me, and everyone around us.
This is why, at Landed, today we take a moment to reiterate: we unequivocally denounce the violence, terror and destruction of black lives in America.
It’s not lost on me and many that today marks the beginning of Pride Month, a celebration to commemorate a 5-day riot in New York City in support of the humanity of LGBTQ people that set off the modern-era gay rights movement. The words and perspectives of queer giants of history hold wisdom and guidance for all of us in this particular moment:
Marsha P. Johnson, fearless and powerful American, black, trans activist on the frontlines of the Stonewall Riots:
- “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”
- “History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realties.”
James Baldwin, prolific 20th American century black (and gay) novelist, playwright, essayist, poet and activist:
- “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
- “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
Barbara Jordan, first Southern African-American women elected to the US House of Representatives who spoke openly of her same-sex life partner:
- “If the society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority.”
- “For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future.”
And with this perspective on the moment, we also must ask: Is the work we do everyday at Landed helping to heal or add to the challenges we all face? The answer is, of course, “yes”:
- By helping talented people stay committed to education, we’re one tool in the toolkit to address systemic underinvestment in the most important lever for change in a society: education. The educators we support plan to stay 13 years longer at their school districts.
- Although not the mission of our work, a positive outcome is that our down payment program acts like a “bank of mom for dad” disproportionately for brown and black families who historically have built less wealth through intergenerational ownership.
- Access to down payment money does nothing to alleviate the cost of housing as a result of low housing supply. We have more work to do to advocate for macro-change that lessens the burden of gentrification on long-term residents of our expensive communities. And we will.
This a moment to wake up and GROW. To ignite a new beginning, not squash a feeling and move on. It is a moment to see more how we’re all in this together.
As heavy, angry and sad as my heart is at this moment in time, there is also so much hope, light, and excitement for what we can glean collectively and transform into lasting change, for ourselves, our families, our customers and our communities.