Office Allies Can’t Cushion the Blow of Yet Another Black Murder
You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t have the strength to walk non-Black work allies through my trauma
The day after George Floyd, a Black man living in Minneapolis, took his last breath after being pinned beneath the knee of a White police officer, a company-wide email appeared in my inbox. The subject: Just Reaching Out. I didn’t open it immediately because I already knew what it was, and when I did, a quick skim confirmed my assumptions. The onslaught of reactions, reports, and retweets of Floyd’s death made it hard for anyone with a TV or a social media account to ignore — including my co-workers. They, too, had seen the grim footage.
I’m not sure if they’d ever watched the recorded deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Korryn Gaines, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, or Walter Scott, but for whatever reason, this one stuck with them. This one meant that some employees — employees like me, with a little more pigment to carry — might not be okay today. They wanted to figure out how to be supportive, so here was this email, addressed not just to me, but to the whole company. From a non-Black employee. This was… new.
Considering some of the not-so-accommodating White colleagues I’ve encountered throughout my career, it was refreshing to see my current team acknowledge the moment and essentially put out a PSA that I may not show up to the next Zoom meeting all smiles, business as usual.
In this case, I know they mean well, and I appreciate the step forward. But in the back of my mind, I also know most of them spent their Memorial Day worry-free, at distant cabins and summer houses, at beaches and barbecues. Perhaps even lounging in a pool on a unicorn floatie, chilled Stella Artois at hand. Me? I spent mine in my apartment, angrily staring at my laptop screen, thinking the same thing I do every time a new hashtag generates: That could’ve been me.