George Floyd will go down in history as one of the most influential men to ever walk the streets of these United States of America.
To honor Mr. Floyd being laid to rest today in his hometown of Houston, TX, consider investing the next 8 minutes and 46 seconds of your life to pay respects to his.
The following are 21 lessons you can help teach the next generation to ensure you don’t play a role in choking out George Floyd’s legacy.
1. Black lives matter.
Sure, we all agree that all lives matter. But all lives haven’t been historically marginalized in the same way as those with black skin. That’s the whole point of the movement. Every life matters just as much as any other life, but those with black skin haven’t historically been valued in the same way as whites. Black lives don’t just matter; they matter just as much as any other life. This hasn’t been a value of all Americans given the statistical inequality, so let’s agree that all human life matters by not forgetting the lives of our black brothers and sisters.
2. Diversity is beautiful.
We shouldn’t just tolerate diversity—we should celebrate it. God has created people the way He intended. We are precious. We are beautifully and wonderfully made. We are His magnum opus. We are His masterpiece. Red, yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight. Let’s not diminish the beauty of His work of art we refer to as the human race.
3. Racism is a heart disease.
Racism exists in the hearts of individuals. It infects the heart. While of course it isn’t infectious in the same way as COVID-19, it is infectious in the sense that racism is inherited, perpetuated and passed on from one generation to another. But it can stop with you. You can make the choice that racism won’t continue on in your heart. You can cure yourself from the disease of your heart by choosing to look at people like God looks at people. God can cure even the most diseased hearts if you allow Him in. When all people look at all people like God looks at all people, racism will cease to exist.
4. We should fight for good.
Unfortunately there are those who don’t see the value of human life, dignity or diversity. We cannot sit back and watch injustices take place with the casual response of, “That’s too bad” or “That’s unfortunate.” There is a battle between good and evil, and while ultimately evil won’t win the war in the end, it doesn’t mean we can’t fight in the battle today.
5. We have a duty to intervene.
In 2016, the Minneapolis Police Department adopted a “duty to intervene” policy, requiring officers to stop or attempt to stop unnecessary force used by other officers. While Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, two of the other officers not only failed to intervene, but also aided in Mr. Floyd’s unnecessary restraint. The fourth officer at least stated to his fellow officers, “You shouldn’t be doing this,” but because none of them chose to make much effort to intervene, they’re all facing their own charges. It’s not just the cops that have a duty to intervene; we all do. If you see something wrong, do something. If you have the opportunity to stop an injustice from taking place, take action. Badge or no badge, we all have a duty to intervene.
6. Silence speaks volumes.
By choosing to remain silent on issues when others want to hear your voice, you cannot sit on the sidelines and stay silent. Don’t use your voice to speak hate, but use the voice God gave you to share truth, hope and love. Choosing to stay silent is likely communicating something you’re not intending to say.
7. Ignorance is not bliss.
Ignorance means you’re willing to ignore. Ignorance means you are ignorant. This isn’t something to brag about; ignoring someone’s else cry for help should make you ashamed! Staying uninvolved because you can’t relate doesn’t just make you unrelatable, it makes you apathetic, lazy and disconnected. Learning about history and hurt provide you the chance to help and heal.
8. Violence is not the answer.
Rioters and protesters are not one in the same, and therefore cannot be lumped together as the same voice. Some people are opportunists, meaning they will take advantage of opportunities whenever they can. Those who peacefully protest are making a point, but rioters distract, deafen and detract the message trying to be shared by committing their own injustices. Two wrongs have never made a right. You have the right to be heard, but when you fight fire with fire, everyone gets burned.
9. Assumptions are dangerous.
Derek Chauvin assumed George Floyd was guilty of a crime because of the color of his skin. That assumption will likely land Chauvin in jail for years to come, if not the rest of his life. Don’t assume things about people. Take the time to get to know them instead.
10. Everyone has a story.
The more you choose to listen, the more you will realize that everyone has a story. The more you learn about someone else’s story, the more you will realize you probably have more in common than you thought.
11. Everyone wants to be heard.
Because everyone has a story, everyone wants to be heard. This doesn’t mean they have to have the only voice or the loudest voice, but they need at least a voice. Grant them the opportunity to be heard.
12. Take the time to listen.
One of the best ways to show love to someone else is to listen to them. Don’t just hear what they’re saying. Truly listen. There’s a difference. “I can’t breathe.” If the officers had truly listened, George Floyd would likely still be alive. “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” – David Augsburger
13. The past doesn’t have to predict the future.
Just because certain things happened yesterday doesn’t mean they have to happen again tomorrow. We can learn from history and past mistakes and get better as we go. While history oftentimes repeats itself, it doesn’t have to if we’re willing to make change happen.
14. Change is possible.
What seemed impossible yesterday may be possible today. While it is sad that racism still exists in our world, it does seem as though change is being made little by little. Don’t give up on your passions, ideas or dreams to make this world a better place. Change is possible.
15. Change starts with you.
It’s easy to point the finger and talk about how everyone else needs to change, but first look in the mirror and ask the sobering question of “Who needs to change first?” Change is possible with laws, policies and procedures, but don’t expect others to change unless you’re willing to first challenge yourself.
16. One life can change the world.
George Floyd will be remembered for decades, if not centuries to come. Never forget that even just one life can change millions of others. Never underestimate the power that one life can make on generations to come. Don’t underestimate the power of your life. And by the way, suicide is never an option. Your life is too valuable. You mean too much. Don’t believe any lies in your head that tell you otherwise.
17. There is power in unity.
While one life has potential to change the world, there is even more power in the unity of many voices acting as one. The more we can come together and support one another, the more powerful we will be together. We are indeed better together.
18. People are looking for leadership.
People crave leadership. Lead with your voice. Lead with your words. Lead with your actions. Lead with your compassion. Lead with your love. Whatever you do, understand there are not only people watching, but there are people willing to follow if you’re willing to lead.
19. Lead people well.
Because people are constantly looking for leadership, oftentimes they settle for poor examples. Just leading isn’t enough. You can lead others as a good example or as bad example. Lead people well by choosing to be a leader worth following.
20. Love wins.
It’s difficult to love someone if you don’t know who they are, but it’s difficult not to love someone if you know their story. The more reasons people discover they have to love one another, the fewer reasons people will have to hate one another. Love wins hearts.
21. Take action.
We show love to others when we’re willing to take action. What action can you take? Which lesson above stands out to you most? Comment below and voice your thoughts or add additional lessons of your own. Don’t just think about taking action. Take it. Do something. Speak up. Schedule a coffee. Have a conversation. Listen to a story. Ask for forgiveness. Do something. Choosing to do nothing allows George Floyd’s murder to go in vain. Keep his legacy alive by taking action. Right now.