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Thoughts from your Black colleague

Marco Lindsey, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Haas School of Business | June 3, 2020

I’m writing this now, but to be honest, I really don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to write, I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to work, I don’t want to socialize.

Many of you have reached out to me personally, and I appreciate it. I do. I just feel like (crap) right now. I find myself crying often, and I haven’t cried outside of a funeral in many years.

Because I am a community activist, I am receiving numerous requests to speak to our community and our youth in Oakland on what we should do next or how we should move forward. But I’m at a loss. I have no f**king idea on where we go from here. Voting seems like the most productive choice, but we’ve voted for a long time, and this problem has never subsided. And me casting a ballot in November does not make my son any safer today (or in November for that matter). Within the last week, even Black politicians have been assaulted and arrested while PEACEFULLY protesting…

There’s social unrest happening in our country. And whatever side you are on regarding looting and/or protests, what’s happening is that people are fed up, disgusted, tired, hurt, afraid, angry, and in mourning.

If you read no further, understand this: Black Lives Matter = if anyone kills a Black person, their punishment should be the same as if they killed someone from any other race.

No matter if they are White, Black, or Blue. If anyone kills a Black person, they should be arrested, tried and convicted of murder. We don’t hold the false belief that murders amongst humans will stop. If you read the bible, when there were only 4 people on earth (Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel), a murder occurred. We live in a cruel world. The request is that when someone Black is killed, the murderer gets treated the same no matter their job, race, gender or nationality.

This is what people are protesting. This is what people are upset about. A quarterback attempted to peacefully protest this by taking a knee, and he was black listed (it’s unfortunate that so many negative connotations are associated with the word “black), called an SOB by the president, and called disrespectful to our flag/nation by many of our fellow Americans. People… Black people are at our wits end because we have no idea what to do to fix this.

There was a time when I was afraid for my life as a Black man. But that fear subsided when I became a father. Because now, for the rest of my life, I live with the fear of my children being murdered by someone from an over-represented group, without consequence. I live with this burden daily. Daily.

The true problem with the recent videos of Black people being slayed is that there are thousands of others who experience the same fate, but because they aren’t recorded, you’ll hear nothing about it. Even George Floyd’s “official” report from the police says that heart disease and “potential intoxicants” in his system played a part in his death. So many people who look like me are dying REGULARLY by those who are sworn to serve and protect us, and it goes unnoticed except by the fatherless children and broken families left behind.

marco lindsey sits in a chair smiling.

Marco Lindsey is the associate director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Berkeley Haas. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

I don’t have faith that we will see a change in my lifetime. I was alive to see Rodney King viciously beaten and have the officers deemed not guilty. That was almost 30 years ago and we are still watching Black men and women be assaulted and killed on camera by the people meant to protect them.

I am sending this to you because I think of you as a friend, but feel free to share (if you didn’t receive this directly from me, please charge it to my mind and not my heart, as I am not remembering or thinking straight much these days). But many times it’s easier to deal with these tragedies because the Black man killed is a stranger. But you know me. As hard as it may be to do, imagine me on the ground, handcuffed, begging for my mother (her name is Dorothy Louise) while an officer has his knee on my neck until I stopped breathing. Until I was dead. I need this to hit home because it not hitting home for so many people is the reason it continues. I need you to think of me lying there dead. Because when I saw this video (like too many others), I see my sons. I see my sons…

In my current state, I won’t and can’t ask much of you. But I do have simple requests.

Talk to your children about anti-Blackness. As a father I know that we want to keep them innocent and naive for as long as we can. But unfortunately they are bombarded with anti-blackness in cartoons, the media, at school, at the park, while shopping and online. Whether you notice it or not, it is embedded in our society. This is why so often you will hear of someone who committed heinous acts, and their parent’s saying that they didn’t raise them like that, or that they don’t know where they got that from. The world is teaching our children lessons that we may not condone. And You have the power to combat this but you have to be intentional. Because while I have very little hope that a change will come in my lifetime, I do pray that future generations get it right. But it starts with us doing something now.

My second request is that if you see a Black person being treated unjustly, speak up. Whether it is by a store clerk, a fellow citizen, a peace officer, or any public official, please say something. Your silence is your approval of negative actions. I get it. Not everyone is an extrovert, and many times we want to just mind our business. But we all would want someone to speak up on our behalf (or our family’s behalf) if we were on the receiving end of mistreatment. Be that someone.

Lastly, I’ll say get involved. I can’t dictate to you what that looks like, but it can be anything from writing an email to public officials, sharing a social media post, learning more about anti-Blackness, being an active ally at a rally, donating, or just sharing this message. But do something. Please don’t sit idly by while I am being murdered. Make no mistake about it. I am dying.

Comments to “Thoughts from your Black colleague

  1. Nice content shared by Berkeley loved to read the content again and again.
    find and follow your passion in life

  2. Dear Marco,

    Thank you for being the amazing person you are and sharing with us what is happening in your heart, body and soul and in such a powerful, haunting and vulnerable way. I am glad your letter and your voice is amplified and we will continue to make sure you are heard. You are a true leader. You inspire. You bring folks together. Thank you.
    -Your humble colleague and friend.

  3. Dear Marco,

    Thank you for sharing your heart-song. Remember, leading does not require having all the answers, but it demand that we are present. And You , my brother, continue to show-up despite the circumstance. In your deepest moments of sorrow and despair, you show-up. Despite your fear, you transmute worry into courage and inspire others to engage. Whispering love notes of possibilities, you enlist us to live and breath fully.

    You are an inspiration and provide me with hope. I love you my brother and celebrate your spirit of giving.


  4. Sylvia Sanders and I graduated from Cal on the same day. Sylvia left a tenure track, HHMI funded faculty position at MIT because of a lack of support for the first female black faculty in the Department of Biology at MIT. Her advisor is a Nobel prize winner. MIT should explain why it failed her.

  5. White people! Read up, and learn about abolishing hate!

    The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    White Fragility by Robert Diangelo
    The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabella Wilkerson
    [The next three works are all by the same author. in this case, Ta-Nehisi Coates]
    The Beautiful Struggle
    Between the world and me
    We Were Eight Years in Power
    [the next two works are both by James Loewen]
    Lies My Teacher Told Me
    Sundown Towns
    Evicted by Matthew Desmond
    Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
    Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates Jr
    Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
    The Color of the Law by Richard Rothstein
    Biased by Jennifer L Eberhardt
    1921: Reporting a Massacre by Randv Krehbiel
    Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer
    Indigenous People’s History of the US by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
    Transgender History by Susan Stryker
    Latino Americans by Ray Suarez
    Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
    In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
    A Country For All: An Immigrant Manifesto by Jorge Ramos
    Slavery By Another Name by Douglas A Blackmon
    The Blood of Emmet Till by Tomothy B Tyson
    Can We Talk About Race? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
    When They Call You a Terrorist by Patricia Khan Cullors & Ashe Bandele
    The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee
    A Disability History of the United States by Kim E Nielson

  6. Dear Mr. Lindsey,
    I’m a 66 year old white woman. I’m a military brat. When I was 7 years old my father was briefly stationed in Ft. Meade Maryland. On Friday evenings my mother did the grocery shopping for the family and one of us kids went along to help. As a reward for helping her she would stop at a coffee shop at the edge of the parking lot, where the grocery store was, and treat her helper to the dessert of their choice. I remember so vividly sitting at the counter spinning around on my stool waiting for my banana split and my mother smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee. Along the outside wall were booths and there was a commotion in a booth behind us. An African American elderly couple had come in and sat down in a booth. The waitress said words to the effect that they don’t serve ( insert the N word) here. My mother grabbed me by my little arm so quickly I nearly fell to the floor and she shoved me into the booth next to the man and she sat down next to the woman and looked up at the waitress and said they were with us. I can remember being physically carried out of the coffee shop, crying, as I could see my banana split melting on the counter over the person’s shoulder who was carrying me. My mom and the elderly couple were being escorted out the door. I remember being out side in the dark, my mother profusely apologizing to the couple for causing a scene that they probably didn’t need. The woman telling my mother it was alright. The name of the coffee shop was “The White Tea Kettle”, my mom was from Manhattan and had no idea what the name of the coffee shop implied. For years I was just upset about not getting my reward for helping her that night and just seeing it melting on the counter. I was so mad at my mom at the time but as I began to grow up, by the time I was 12 or 13, I started to understand what she did that night. She spoke up. She was amazing actually. White people need to speak up, the onus is on us, it’s always been on us. I hope what is happening now is a real tipping point that has made that clear. I learned that early but didn’t internalize it until much later.
    You are a brave man. As you cry I hope you find some comfort in knowing a lot of people, white people, are waking up, it’s taken us far too long for sure, but something is different this time. But we will need to be constantly reminded.
    Maureen Roddy

  7. Marco, you sure know how to motivate.

    So, I have a question: CAN ANY ACADEMICS HELP US OVERCOME AT LAST the human failure to respect all peoples regardless of differences in color, religion, sociology, behavior, politics, wealth, the multiplicity of Us/Them differences that exist everywhere in the world, that is destroying the human race, so all of Us and Them shall have Equality At Last?

    • I keep hoping and praying that academics have solutions to the never-ending tragedies that made Black Lives Matter necessary but my quest on this blog has always been an exercise in futility because, as Dirks quoted Hofstadter in a 2013 CALIFORNIA Magazine issue: academics “don’t want to take on the sort of complications and impurities that come with being public” proving that it is much simpler to preach in a classroom than it is to practice in real world.

      So I continue to hope and pray that current protests are successful in producing a solution that makes Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream of Free At Last come true at last.

      Thank you very much for your Thoughts Mr. Lindsey, the responses to your post prove they can make a difference.

      • Anthony…
        It’s my view that if Black history were taught in schools, there would be much more awareness of how things came to be! Black history is really American history! This country was built on the enslavement and genocide of Native Americans and Africans enslaved and brought here. The wealth acquired was gotten through horrible means. The systemic racism in the DNA of American came through unfair policies and laws targeted against a nation of people! YES, academics CAN make a difference, but it will take courage from educational administrations to implement this teaching. It will be a hard thing for a nation of white people to admit that though this current generation didn’t “cause” systemic racism, they benefit from it and in many ways, consciously or unconsciously perpetuate it! Honest classroom discussions to facilitate understanding the true history of this country MUST be had! Thank you for the part you will play in that endeavor!

  8. Dear Mr Lindsey, perhaps this video released today with a statement by Cal Alumni Executive Director Cloey Hewlitt will help us all keep the faith.

  9. Marco, Thank you for your true words. I am standing with my African-American brothers and sisters! We all need to stand up for each other and fight injustice at all levels. #blacklivesmatter

  10. I,m 93 years old and a graduate of U.C.L.A. , Berkeley, and U.C.S.F. My son Berkeley and daughter U.C.S.C.Each one of us has felt our generation would see change and that skin color would stop being a problem for our colleagues. It has but just for many a small percent that year and never for a lot. But that small amount did just so gradually for a small percent. Each one of us thought that was THE year but never got to 100%. That would will happen, but when. Well I’ve got 7 years how about you? Will it happen in any of our lifetimes? I certainly hope so. I bet on U.C. S. C. ,s mascot….the SLUG…..

  11. Dear Mr Lindsay
    Your words need to be heard!
    I am a 65 year old retired white male that was born in Birmingham, Alabama. My generation of Baby Boomers has failed to make the many needed societal changes to address systemic racism. We have long ignored these needs or just focused on the looting that often occurs during peaceful protests; versus listening to the peaceful protesters message.
    I hope that All of America (especially our youth) will protest, communicate, demonstrate, legislate and vote for change so the many needed societal changes will occur! If not, I fear that we will just repeat the failure to change systemic racism as did my generation, my parents and their parents and…
    Without this action the past will likely be repeated😢

  12. Thank you Marco for your consistency in speaking out against these unjust actions, as well as your call to action. It sickens me that Black people always seem to turn the other cheek, provide white folks with the benefit of the doubt, yet many whites don’t return the favor. If you’re black, walking, running, or driving in “their” neighborhoods, you’re somehow deemed suspicious. I’ve been suspicious my entire life, and quite frankly I’m over it. Black people are not suspicious, but many white folks are; they have more serial killers in their fold than black people will ever have, at least historically. Just look at how Amy Cooper flashed on the guy doing something as harmless as bird watching. Good Grief Charlie Brown, is your fake fear taking over your entire mental health? It must be, for many, and thus the reason, they need to seek help fast.

  13. So well written. I appreciated getting this and will pass it along. I will not stand by.

  14. Thank you for taking the time to share this with your team and to bear your feelings with such raw and vivid detail. Those last few lines with stick with me forever.

  15. In the name of Jesus! This is so sad that an activist pours his heart out about his fears as a black man. Hes afraid for his child, hes afraid for the whole black race that for 30 years, nothing has changed when it comes to race relations in this country. Black people are simply looked at by Law enforcement as non important. My comment to this narrative is We as a people. black people are still denied teaching black history to our kids and our kids don’t know what happened back in slavery and that what is taking place in our society now is a new form of slavery and racism by a licensed public official to kill black people and be protected by the laws of the land. It continue to happen over and over again and very little has changed over the years. Until black history is allowed to be taught in our public schools…Young black people will not understand why killing and mass incarceration of black males especially in this country is still happening today . I work in the school system but refused to become a certified teacher because our educational system is set up to fail our black kids.

  16. Dear Marco,

    My heart breaks reading this. It was aching before – now it is breaking. I am left speechless and also wanting to write back so much as a response. For now, all I will say is Thank you. Know that you have touched me deeply and because of who you are and what you have said, something will change in my life. It will be something that attempts to make things better for Black people. I need to reflect deeply on what you have said and talk with those in my circle of influence. Mostly I know that as a white person I need to listen and learn—from you, from my Black friends, my Black colleagues, from Black leaders, and more. I need to listen. And then take some actions. Something will change in me, I promise. Thank you for writing, now, in your crushing anguish. Thank you.

  17. Chicago : two shootings every hour, mostly back on black. USA 10,000 shootings last year. 1004 deaths by cop shootings. Only 30 unarmed , 20 whites, TEN blacks. Fact check Washington Post

    • Ok Tucker Jr. you do realize I’m sure that George Floyd was not shot. Being brutalized by police due to the color of one’s skin is the issue.

  18. This made me cry as I have many times this last week. I too fear for my biracial children. I hear you and I see you. I stand with you. As Chair for the Native American Staff Council I stand beside you. I too represent a race that is murdered, beaten, mistreated, belittled, betrayed as human and looked past as they are nothing. Not worthy of speaking. This has to end. I’m so sorry. I’m so scared and angry. I’m sad. I cannot imagine. I know that my husband and kids have one hell of a road but we will travel it together until a change comes. All Lives Cannot Matter Until Black Lives Matter. Thank you for your words. The hit home tonight. It is the hardest conversation I’ve had to have with my 19 yo son and 8 yo daughter.

  19. I stand in front of you, beside you, in back of you, with tears and despair. It is not an attempt at comfort, protection, other false assurance. I am not sure what it is but if I don’t stand beside you, I am a bystander and I can’t stand by.

  20. Dear Mr. Lindsey:Thank you for taking the time to write this. We don’t know each other. I am a UC alum and have lived in Berkeley since coming here to go to school. I know many people feel angry and terrified that we still have not stopped racism in our country. I can’t place myself in your shoes but I will try. My Berkeley Rabbi Yonatan Cohen recently posted on Facebook about having a spiritual awakening when he was young when he read Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book “Moral Guidance and Spiritual Audacity”. He said he got a moment of fire in his heart. He said Heschel’s faith was fiery, uncomfortable and resisting of any false comfort and temporary relief. I have been told that to be fighting racism is very uncomfortable and unbearably hard. I am older now and see how easy it is to slip unconsiously into craving comfort which as a Jew I have no business doing. I am reaching out to you in your sorrow and pain to say I will work to combat this. I am only one drop in the sea but I believe each one drop of water is powerful. Please have hope.
    Susan Schickman

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