Thomas G. Suk, PhD, LMFT, LCPC" />

A Statement on the death of George Floyd

The purpose of this short blog entry is to keep before us as mental health professionals the continued need to remember the wrong that was done, to support the demand for justice, and to help transform ourselves and our communities into places where all people are held in equal regard, where interpersonal respect is the universal expectation.

Breath. The first independent act of a newborn. Breath which sustains life daily.

It was a murderous act that stole breath and life from George Floyd. It was wrong then and it was wrong in any previous instance where the life of a Black person was regarded as less worthy, less important, or more feared solely because of their skin tone. We recognize the complicit behavior of those officials who stood by during George Floyd’s agonizing death when they could have acted justly. We are committed to not be those who stand by idly, but rather choose to do all we can to review our own lives and attitudes, speak out and act in support of justice for the Black community, and contribute to those supporting the call for reform and justice. We sympathize with those who lost their Dad, their family member, their friend. We recognize that as a community we have not done enough or spoken out frequently enough against racial injustice. We stand in support of those who continue to speak that more must be done and resolve to act in the following areas:

  1. Review our own behaviors and attitudes regarding what we need to change to make a difference in our life and in the community of which we are a part.
  2. Recognize the personal need and value of expanding our social circles to be more diverse.
  3. Not grow weary of speaking out against racist behavior.
  4. Listen to and learn from the life experience of those who have been marginalized because of the color their skin. Two stories.

Early in my career I encouraged a client who was Black and in need of better employment, to get out there and network to pursue his next career objective. He looks at me like I was nuts; I was certainly ignorant of his situation. He calmly and kindly looked at me and said it was different out there for his employment search. His words were more along the line of, “If you don’t know what it’s like to be a Black man trying to find a job in this town, you aren’t going to be able to help me with anything.” He was right; I had much to learn. And he graciously taught me.

I remember racing into a fabric store for material to cover a small repair I was making on the interior of my car. It was around closing time and as I passed a group of Latinas discussing a purchase, I heard an employee of the store bark at them to hurry up because the store was closing soon. Immediately after this comment he turned to me and said in a common store clerk manner, “May I help you sir?” One party railed against, the other engaged politely. I recognized again that what I experienced in my environment was not the same as what others experienced in that same setting. If we keep our eyes and ears open to others’ experiences, we will see more clearly.

  1. Contribute time, energy, and money to groups focusing their attention on care of underserved populations. Spring Tree will do this through contributions to organizations serving the mental health needs of underserved populations and investigate how we might directly serve those in need.

Our staff mourns the loss of George Floyd’s life and the racist and criminal behavior involved in this and too many tragedies like it. We support the voice of those who are crying out for change and justice and are committed to taking steps beyond these words to help contribute to change in our community and country.

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