Y’all OK?

My bookkeeper, who’s from New Orleans, reached out to check in with me yesterday. “Y’all OK in Chicago?” 

Yes, it was an intense weekend in Chicago, intense and surreal. 

First, there was the grief over yet another unjustified police killing. 

Then, there were the protests. At first, they were energizing — let’s do something. Then some, unfortunately, were met with geared up police looking for confrontations. Eventually, anger boiled over and instead of the changes the protestors were there to create, opportunistic looting became the story that dominated the news. 

Insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

We’ve been in this movie before, lots of times before. 

This expletive-laden video sums up a lot of people’s frustration. 

I’m not an expert in race relations, nor am I someone who can opine on public policy. But I have spent half my life watching leaders, good and bad, solve complex problems. What we need right now are some excellent leaders who can show a different way forward, together. 

For too long in America, we’ve let what divides us be more important than what brings us together.

Politicians have exploited our divisions to raise money and get votes, the news media had exploited our fear and outrage to keep us tuned in and subscribed, consumer products companies have sold us brands to show we’re more “woke,” or successful, or sexy than someone else. 

I don’t know anyone who wants this cycle of killing, rage, and protests to continue. We can come together around that. 

There is far more that we have in common than we have things that separate us. 

Leadership is seeing the mess we’re sitting in — really seeing it — and at the same time pointing toward a better place and showing folks how to get there. 

Ken Nwadike, Jr is someone that is doing that. Listen as he explains his offer of hugs to police officers. 

He’s not there to condone the violent acts that police committed. Nor is he there to foment revolution. He’s there to help individual people see one another as individual people.

That is leadership. That’s love.

Find someone today who’s on the opposite side of some kind of line that you’ve drawn, or that they’ve drawn, and brainstorm; what do I have in common with that person? 

Is it enough to heal the divides in the nation? No. It’s likely not even enough to make up for my own ignorance about the historical racism and current violence that people of color endure. But it’s a start.

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