A Call to Action: Remembering George Floyd
Three years ago, on May 25, 2020, our country began mourning the public murder of George Floyd, who, while going to a local corner store in Minneapolis, was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin. The video of this incident and his dying words, “I can’t breathe,” moved millions of people worldwide to take a stand against systems of anti-Black violence and police brutality during what some called the “dual pandemic” of COVID-19. The world’s collective outcry and fury demanded justice; that anger is justified and sacred. Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant) encourages those most harmed to honor their feelings today, and for those with privilege to reckon with these inequitable systems and drive change to improve the quality of life for all people.
Like the rest of our country, Vibrant used this charge to re-examine its work and vision through commitments that directly reflect a more intentional, thoughtful, and equitable organization. Vibrant formed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee, led by CEO Kimberly Williams, and Chief of Quality, Compliance and Equity, Lisa Jones Chandler, with experiences from across the agency to forge a path forward with those most affected at the center. In collaboration with SAMHSA, Vibrant built an Equity and Belonging team filled with leading experts in their field, eager to collaborate with all divisions. Vibrant’s work offers solidarity with the grief and frustration that people of color, especially Black Americans, have been forced to carry; it also celebrates their love and ingenuity while growing seeds and systems for joy and wellness.
Today, Vibrant honors and continues to acknowledge George Floyd’s life and the tragedy of his death by reflecting on our roles in the histories and systems of which we are a part as caregivers here at Vibrant.
Vibrant is working on embedding more equitable practices throughout all bodies of our work, including the 988 Lifeline and our Direct Services. This looks like centering on wellness for all people of color. For example, Vibrant is participating in training, and webinars, and leading courageous conversations about how each of us can play a role in mitigating racialized harm. This is amplified through the life-affirming work driven by direct services programs like The Fellowship Institute, Family and Youth Peer Support Services, Adolescent Skills Centers, and more who support wellness and resilience of historically marginalized communities every day. This also includes nurturing, contributing to, and connecting with organizations by and for the wellness of Black people, like the In My Mind conference, the Ancestral Institute, and the Aakoma Project.
Additionally, this year, Vibrant will host Affinity Groups to offer spaces for intracommunity conversation and healing. Staff is encouraged to join, talk, and grow together by speaking directly on race and racism, particularly at Vibrant. The E&B team will be hosting and supporting guest talks and webinars on expansive views on wellness for all staff.
Vibrant encourages all people to take today as a reminder of our own roles in preventing and addressing race-based violence and its traumatic impacts. Racism and all forms of oppression are persistent exacerbators of trauma. George Floyd’s tragic murder highlighted what so many have fought against for years, and is now finally clear to those whom these events don’t normally impact.