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Resources to cope, process, learn, and respond to the George Floyd national protests

The events catalyzed by the death of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police have quickly swept the nation. Over 350 cities and towns across the United States have seen protests in the name of racial equity, inclusion, justice, and respect. Sadly, we continue to experience the unresolved legacies and struggles that have been a part of this nation since before its founding.

Some of us are feeling anguish that we’ve never quite experienced before. Others are feeling this trauma on top of a lifetime of racial trauma–built on generations of historical trauma. Some of us can’t quite take this all in yet and others may feel somewhat numb to the impact of what is happening in the world around us. All of this in the midst of another pandemic, the COVID virus.

How does the National Park Service, the organization entrusted to both protect and tell the stories of the America’s most important places and events process, cope, and be a part of the solution to the challenges of this time in a proactive way?

The Office of Relevancy, Diversity and Inclusion (RDI) champions an organizational culture that values the diverse ideas, experience, and background of every individual. At this time of personal, societal, and national pain, we share the following resources that have helped us discover a more nuanced and inclusive picture of this nation’s racial history. A more holistic examination of our shared history can help us better integrate knowledge into a new way of being and interacting together.

What do these resources stir in you? What questions do you have? Join the conversation on the RDI commons group, a space for dialogue, processing, reflection, and support and let us know if these resources are helpful, or if there are others we should include.

Places to Start

First, Seek to Understand 

  • Twenty and Odd: Exploring 400 years of the African American Experience.
  • Historical Foundations of Race: The term “race,” used infrequently before the 1500s, was used to identify groups of people with a kinship or group connection. The modern-day use of the term “race” is a human invention.
  • Race, Police, and the Pandemic: As streets across America erupt into clashes over racism during the coronavirus pandemic, Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker examines a connection between George Floyd’s death and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 deaths among African Americans.
  • The George Floyd Protests and the Price of Not Confronting RacismWe will remain trapped in a cycle of anger and hopelessness until more white Americans come to grips with our past.
  • 13th: In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists, and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. 
  • 400 Years: Discussing slavery, freedom, and race in America.
  • The American Nightmare: To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.
  • Riot or resistance?: How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public view of protest.
    The Double Standard of the American Riot: The nationwide protests against police killings have been called un-American by critics, but rebellion has always been used to defend liberty.
  • Social Identities and Systems of Oppression: Systems of oppression are individual, institutional, and societal and their effects on people have a long history deeply rooted in American culture.
  • The Kerner Commission got it Right, but Nobody Listened: in March 1968, the Kerner Commission declared white racism—not black anger—was behind protests that riled the nation. Bad policing practices, a flawed justice system, unscrupulous consumer credit practices, poor or inadequate housing, high unemployment, voter suppression, and other culturally embedded forms of racial discrimination all converged to propel violent upheaval on the streets of African-American neighborhoods in American cities, north and south, east and west. And as black unrest arose, inadequately trained police officers and National Guard troops entered affected neighborhoods, often worsening the violence.
  • We’re Still Marching: Updating our Understanding and Interpretation of the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement: One of the major lessons learned from the National Park Service’s Civil War to Civil Rights Commemoration in 2015 was that the relevance of the park system and NPS programs rests in the connections to long-standing and on-going struggles for equality.
  • Processing Traumatic Moments: Staff Dialogue Quick Start Guide Processing our emotional responses as a work group can help us all be healthier. It can also make us better prepared to help visitors process their emotions when traumatic moments
    happen in our society.
  • The Anti-Racist Preservationist’s Guide to Confederate Monuments: Their Past and a Future Without Them After the South lost the Civil War in 1865, white Southerners began re-framing and sanitizing the story of their bloody, failed battle to preserve slavery. A new, “acceptable” white supremacist ideology was born.

For Supervisors/Managers 

Explore Unconscious and Explicit Bias 

  • Harvard’s Project Implicit: Discover your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics.
  • Being Anti-racist: To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being anti-racist in all aspects of our lives.
  • What is Bias? Once we know and accept we have bias, we can begin to recognize our own patterns of thinking. With awareness and a conscious effort, we have the power to change how we think and to challenge the negative or harmful biases within ourselves.
  • How to Fight Racial Bias, According to a Stanford Psychologist: Neither our evolutionary path nor our present culture dooms us to be held hostage by these biases.

Healing 

  • My Grandmother’s Hands by Resma Menakem; “The first self-discovery book to examine white body supremacy in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.”
  • Community Building: By considering each other’s lives, experiences, and perspectives, we allow a community to be not only about what we have in common but what makes us different.
  • Campaign Zero: We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
  • Restorative Justice Practices: Helping victims, survivors, and communities approach crime proactively and engage all parties involved in the healing process
  • Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not: Let’s cut to the chase. It’s been a tough few days…weeks…months.

Inclusivity 

  • Inclusion and the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace: Workplace diversity has gained currency around the world as business leaders seek to develop a more cohesive, collaborative, and creative work environment as a means of driving continued growth. What often gets lost in the conversation is inclusion, the twin component of diversity that ultimately leads to business success.
  • How to Build Great Employee Resource Groups: Employee Resources Groups – are they the golden ring towards which agencies should reach? Or are they over-hyped and underutilized?
  • The Equity Manifesto: The Equity Manifesto has been inspired by the work, commitments, insights, and resolve of the many partners with whom PolicyLink has shared this journey. Please use it, share it, and reflect on it in your lives, your work, your struggle.
  • The #1 Strategy for True Inclusion in the Workplace: Wide demographics alone won’t make a difference to an organization’s bottom line unless the people within those demographics feel authentically welcomed.
  • Excerpt: The Four Truths (from Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid in the 1990s. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. The report created a framework for understanding truth and the multiplicity of understanding.

Self Care, Care of Family, and Each Other  

Law Enforcement Community 

  • Final Report of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential in a democracy. It is key to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services. 
  • How to Reform American Police, According to Experts: As protesters demonstrate against police violence, here are eight ideas for reforming law enforcement in the US.
  • What Makes a Good Cop? When we think about what it means to be a good cop, we think about officers like Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret.) and those who see law enforcement as more than just a career, but as a deeply important responsibility – a commitment to making their communities better, safer.
  • The No-Nonsense Guide to What Makes a Good Police Officer: If you reflect on TV or movie portrayals of police officers, you might have a picture in your head of what a “bad cop” looks like. But since most people only interact with police officers when something has gone wrong, it can be hard to see qualities that make a truly great police officer shine.
  • Police-Community Relations: The key to improving police effectiveness and public safety is to return to the fundamental principles of modern policing, which means both increasing police-community trust and preventing crime instead of reacting to crime.
  • Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program: How can we ensure that policing reduces insecurity and injustice in an inclusive manner, instead of reinforcing inequality? How can communities and police departments work together to address the toxic legacy of racial discrimination that continues to distort law and policy in the United States?
  • Study Suggests Large Racial Bias in Police Use of Force: The results of a study suggesting that white officers are far more likely to use “gun force” against blacks than black officers are.
  • Principles of Good Policing – Avoiding Violence Between Police and Citizens: The primary purpose of this publication is to assist law enforcement agencies in reducing the incidence of violence between police officers and citizens.

White Privilege, Fragility, Supremacy, and Whiteness 

  • A Primer on Privilege: what it is and what it isn’t. 
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
  • White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh 
  • Me and White Supremacy Workbook, by Layla Saad. Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on black, indigenous, and people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too. 
  • What is Whiteness? Introductory article to book of same name, by Nell Irvin Painter.
  • How to be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram Kendi.
  • Race & Racial Identity: Although race has no genetic or scientific basis, the concept of race is important and consequential. Societies use race to establish and justify systems of power, privilege, disenfranchisement, and oppression.
  • Whiteness: Since white people in America hold most of the political, institutional, and economic power, they receive advantages that nonwhite groups do not.

A sincere thank you to all those who have shared and contributed resources to this list!

Write a Review

  1. I in no way want to diminish these great resources because I believe they can be incredibly helpful for people and I have sent this link to staff within my own park as an opportunity to unlearn and re-learn. I think RDI’s quick attention in providing these growing opportunities is commendable. I do wish that our organization would also address their part/role in the anguish of late.

    How can our organization justify using pepper pellets and smoke bombs on peaceful protesters, when blocks away we tell the story of struggle and importance of the Civil Rights Movement and memorialize MLK? How can people who were formally (mostly) proud of the organization they work for put on the uniform every day knowing in their heart that NPS is better than that and continue to work telling these critical stories with any moral authority? What resources are we giving our seasonal and interpretive staff who will have to answer to the public and represent the agency online and in-person knowing that the entire world was watching when things in DC went so wrong, so fast? I don’t mean to argue, but truly would like the NPS to use it’s interpretive expertise to engage in these hard questions with their staff because if I’m feeling it, I might assume others are.

    “How does the National Park Service, the organization entrusted to both protect and tell the stories of the America’s most important places and events including slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, process, cope, and be a part of the solution to the challenges of this time, some of which are of their own creation, in a proactive way?”

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  2. @klewandowski You ask important and necessary questions. Thank you. The struggle for freedom and equality you reference being just “blocks away” is actually tied to the very ground of Lafayette Park, where historic slave quarters still stand, now bearing the spray-painted words “Black Lives Matter.” We, as NPS interpreters and educators, need to use the tools here and elsewhere to aid us in sharing this and other stories of conflict, protest, and struggle, including our internal struggles as we seek to fulfill our mission to preserve and inspire. Your call to be part of the solution is spot on. Individual responsibility and collective responsibility are the only way. Right now for me, listening and learning is central to how I hope to make a difference. There is a deafening national cry for accountability in addressing civil liberties in our country, as an agency of public trust we must continue to answer the call.

  3. This is very helpful. Thank you for putting this together. Bacon’s Rebellion is mentioned in “Historical Foundation’s of Race” and I’ve always found this to be a useful tool to introduce folks to the dynamics of race in American history.

    Another good resource I’d recommend is the book “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors”. My mentor recently lent it to me and it has been a well-rounded confrontation with the legacy of racism in the history of public parks and general environmental history. The book also speaks to subjects mentioned above like white privilege and white supremacy. Once again, thank you for providing this valuable resource.

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  4. Thank you for including the Law Enforcement section. I do not want to take the focus off of Black Lives Matter and racial injustice, but I think there is a need for healing in our law enforcement community too.

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