Listen. Pay attention to what is going on.
Published: June 3, 2020
It has been a tumultuous week here in Minnesota, and across the United States. At Concordia Language Villages we condemn racism, brutal police force and destructive actions where people live and work. We believe in respect, tolerance and compassion for people of all races, backgrounds and beliefs. And we call for building peaceful communities where all members are safe, welcome and supported. Black lives matter greatly.
In struggling to find the right words, we have simply decided to start with what it means to be human at this time in this place, and to share the first-hand perspective of one of our many staff members in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. This is not the end of what needs to be said. This is not necessarily a great beginning, to be very honest. But we have to start. And then we must keep going.
My name is Magna. I grew up in south Minneapolis. I live two blocks away from where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer last Monday.
This past week has been a nightmare. People are angry. People are scared. People are hurting. We have many cultures, many races and many languages represented in this community. We have kids and families here. My neighborhood hasn’t slept in a week and we are all on edge. We don’t feel safe. We are struggling to make sense of what is happening around us, and struggling to know whom to trust and how to find the right way forward.
Many have reached out to me to extend their concern and express hope that things will return to normal again. While the concern is appreciated, I have to say this: I hope things don’t return to normal again. Normal doesn’t feel safe. Not for everyone. Normal isn’t right. There is something profoundly wrong with a world that does not value human life. When it comes down to it, we need to see the human beings and the voices that are part of this experience. If this makes the turmoil more real for anyone, I am ready to bear witness, but I am not the important one here.
My job is to get out of the way to support voices that are not getting heard. Please take the time to read the words that are emerging along these burnt and boarded up streets. Please take the time to care, to bear witness yourself, and to speak up so that everyone feels safe, and so that safe is what is normal for everyone. Black lives matter. They matter a lot, and they should matter to all of us.
We must venture forth with an open mind and a welcome heart even when the world around us is confusing, alarming or disorienting. Building a peaceful community requires all of us to be courageous in our embrace of the unknown, our practice of respect and fairness and our ability to face fear with hope and resilience. The spirit of everyday courage that we share with one another now will help determine what kind of community we want to build and maintain. We are thinking hard about this at Concordia Language Villages and discussing the impact that we want to carry forward into this world.
There is much more to be said. But even more importantly, let’s listen to those who are trying to be heard. Let’s pay attention to what is going on right now, and let’s make things right (not normal) again.
View more photos from around the Minneapolis area during the last week and a half.
About the Authors
Valerie Magna Borey lives with her family in south Minneapolis and has seen countless noble acts of everyday courage and leadership firsthand in this grieving and distressed community. One of her many roles at Concordia Language Villages is to coordinate Village Parks, a leadership program for Minneapolis urban youth in partnership with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.
Christine Schulze was the executive director for Concordia Language Villages for 30 years, and has just now stepped into the role of director of development for the organization.
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