The Agents of Change: Dr. Khalilah Brown, Senior Director for Inclusive Excellence at Quinnipiac University

The Agents of Change

(WTNH)– Eight minutes and 46 seconds. A moment in time now frozen.

A black man in police custody struggled to breathe.

“I can’t breathe. Please, your knee on my neck”

A stunned nation gasped in utter disbelief.

“George Floyd. I Can’t breathe”

George Floyd’s last breath touched a raw nerve and reignited a movement.

“This is our plight and we won’t stop until it matters to everybody.”

“I am angry”

“Turn your pain into action, turn your tears into action, turn your grief into action. We can change this.”

It also gave birth to The Agents of Change.

“We can change this. We can change this. We must change this.”

“I heard about it that day from a friend who called and said what’s happening in Minneapolis, and I’ve been away from media so I really have no idea what she’s talking about that day. But then when I first started hearing the images, it really drew me in to what was happening not just in Minneapolis but across the country.

Then I went into the mode that I always do which is to ask what not why something is happening, but what are we do now that we’ve seen something that violates our values.

The first thing that I did was listen and I wanted to listen without judgment, to listen without imposing my own views, and then we went into action so I started meeting with other community organizations, other leaders, meeting with my friends in law-enforcement to ask what’s the story here and how is what we’re seeing there connected to what people are feeling and experiencing right here in Connecticut and in our local towns as well.

“Black Lives Matter”

I am hopeful in a way that some people may be cynical I’m hopeful because I’m seeing young people of all different backgrounds right off of different religions of different ethnic identities of different economic backgrounds coming together and literally putting their bodies on the line to say we want better or we deserve better.

I think that people in our country are aware in a way that they can no longer remain silent and complicit because they understand. And even if they personally feel safe, there are other people who don’t have that same luxury.

I think one of the things that is really struck me about where we are right now since Memorial Day weekend is many people came to me and reached out and said what do I do… I want to do something… how can I change this. And I think often as a country we overlook the power that we have as individuals that you start where you are but you don’t have to know everything or read every correct book or know all terminology, but to acknowledge in your heart that you have the power, the agency and the responsibility to make a difference in how you make that difference. Whether that’s tutoring a young person or listening to a neighbor or just simply saying hello to someone you wouldn’t normally acknowledge, that’s where change happens and that’s where we all can become change agents on an everyday basis.”

Dr. Khalilah Brown, Senior Director for Inclusive Excellence, Quinnipiac University

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