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On Accountability

By Jourden A. Taylor, CSJ Treasurer


Leaving Dialogue Day, there was a sense that real change was on the horizon for St. John’s Law. For the beneficiaries of this change this sense of optimism was accompanied by a feeling of skepticism.


In this moment, support for our Black brothers and sisters is at an all-time high, but for those within this community we understand that to many people this is just a moment. Similar to Covid-19, many people just want to return to the days where everything operated normally. Even given the vast protests, seeing “Black Lives Matter” decals on NBA courts, and the new Diversity statements released from huge corporations, Breonna Taylor’s killers still walk free, yet to be held accountable for the death of our sister. Words no longer mean anything to us. Action does.


As a Black man, racial injustice has always stemmed from people not within this group, yet we are the ones asked to educate and resolve. We cannot expect oppressors to discover the meaning of anti-racism on their own nor can we continue asking our Black brothers and sisters to be the sole teachers of their oppression. Instead, we must create a vehicle that helps guide these organizations along this process. This is the purpose of [our] contract.


This vehicle will contextualize this system of accountability with our institution’s broader goal of creating an anti-racist Climate. Moving forward there will be a group of organizations that fail in their pursuit due to the real-life challenges of what they are being asked to do. These organizations will need support and structure, otherwise they will give up. On the other side there will be organizations that look forward to the first sign of resistance as this will serve as the end point for their participation. These organizations will need to be held accountable and their promises enforced, otherwise they will give up. Each organization will have different goals and will need to be supported differently. Thus, without a system intentionally designed to address these different types of issues we cannot serve our purpose in promoting social justice.


As I watched the video of George Floyd I was overcome with emotions. Emotions that spoke to many of my own experiences in today’s America but more simply, it was difficult to comprehend how Derek Chauvin could sit on another man’s neck for that length of time, as if he was an animal. We are not animals and our lives are worth no less than yours. So, as you return to your “normal” understand that without continued action from your community, my community’s “normal” will consist of more George Floyds, Breonna Taylors and Ahmaud Arberys.


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