by Cheryl Fields Tyler — Founder and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting
Upon hearing that Derek Chauvin had been found guilty on all counts in George Floyd’s murder, I was reminded of one of the most-often cited Dr. Martin Luther King quotes: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
This is sometimes heard as a sort of magical realism — a belief that the goodness of the human spirit and Divine Providence will work in combination to make the right things happen. But that is not what it means. As is so painfully evident in Dr. King’s life and the myriads of people, particularly Black people, who have suffered, fought, advocated, worked, persevered, and too often died while believing they could build a better world for their families, communities, and indeed, for all of us — justice must be envisioned, fought for, and won.
The moral universe is us — people. It is our hearts, homes, communities, laws, economy, schools, justice system, businesses, and so much more. If the last year has shown us anything, it’s reinforcing how essential it is to envision, fight for, and win in this battle for justice in every venue of our lives. It took many, many people over many, many years to make the Chauvin verdict possible and create a societal context where there is a clear majority of the country that agrees with this trial’s outcome. As long overdue as it is, I believe the Chauvin verdict is one more step in this “bending of the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
But, we can’t be naive or ill-informed. George Floyd’s murder was a horrific tragedy and a guilty verdict won’t bring him back. The trial, moreover, took place against a backdrop of numerous police shootings — including Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Anthony J. Thompson, and, within hours of Chauvin’s verdict, Ma’Khia Bryant and Andrew Brown Jr. — all of whom join a seemingly endless list of BIPOC we have lost needlessly, tragically, and entirely unjustly.
It is critically important to acknowledge the ongoing trauma many are experiencing, and continue to experience due to systemic racism in this country. Specifically, as a white person, I need to acknowledge there is simply no way I can possibly fully understand the nature and experience of this ongoing trauma — including the pain and uncertainty over the past months leading up to Chauvin’s trial and conviction.
As business leaders, it is vital that we support our BIPOC colleagues and customers, and express our allyship in all of our communities — with open ears, open hearts, open minds, ready to learn, ready to unlearn, ready to support, and ready to say or do whatever is called for. Particularly within our organizations, it’s important to stress that we are in full support of people who may need extra time, space, support and/or help to manage workload, time away for rest, to share, and to not share.
For me, my quest to create the future we yearn for means that we must do everything in our power to continue to “bend the arc toward justice.” I am reiterating Blue Beyond’s commitment to achieving racial justice in all aspects of our work and to advancing DEI, internally and externally. We will continue to learn, unlearn and grow, individually and collectively. Though we’ve made vital and important progress, our work in this area really has only just begun and I remain steadfast in my commitment to the journey ahead.