I remember being a young admissions officer at the start of my college admissions career and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was being asked to be fair in what seemed to be an impossibly unfair environment.
Evaluating thousands of students' applications coming from such different backgrounds than me was a heavy burden. Training was scarce and it was up to me to figure out what to do. Race, socio-economics, gender, religion, mental health, and even learning differences dominated how applications were reviewed. Students were often discriminated against for things that they had no control over. Yet there was no video camera documenting it, nor is there one in college admissions in 2020.
As I watched the horrific video of four police officers holding down George Floyd until he could no longer breathe, I thought about the roles we play in our everyday lives. Law enforcement professionals aren't the only ones with a duty to serve. Whether we work in education, business, sports, customer service or any other field, silence is just as damaging as violence.
Speaking up is harder to do than it is to say, though, especially when nothing is done about it. And the frustration that Americans feel is justified. Regular citizens, employees, and our youth can have a voice, and a powerful one at that. But it takes our political, business, and community leaders to validate our concerns and do something about them.
As we begin to learn from yet another moment in our country's history of discrimination, we must demand more from ourselves, each other, and the leaders we elect, support, and answer to. We should never again wait for something to be captured on film to do something about racist or discriminatory behavior because most of the time it happens without ever being reported, recorded, or resolved.
George Floyd will be remembered as a powerful symbol for those who choose to do better, speak up, and stand united in the face of discrimination. A video captures the act and the perpetrators, but our eyes, ears, and hearts capture the ultimate truth. Every college admissions officer, every police officer, and every officer of humanity should know what to do now and in the future.