• Marissa McTague


Updated: Jun 23, 2020

“In order to change a situation, one has to first see it for what it is.” – James Baldwin

The sun was hot on my neck and my knee was digging into the damp grass. Both were bent in solidarity for only 9 seconds and it was uncomfortable. I sat with those thoughts as I acknowledged my outrageous and offensive privilege. I was uncomfortable for only 9 seconds, George Floyd faced sheer terror for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

The presence of Harriet Tubman’s great, great, great niece humbled the estimated 1,000 people who came out to historic Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania that Saturday. The Black Lives Matter Unified Peace Walk was organized by No More Pain, Freedom Neighborhood One, YANA – You Are Not Alone and concluded at the Harriet Tubman statue on the Bristol Borough waterfront. As protesters listened to speeches, the rallying cries of “I can’t breathe,” “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace” sat heavy as the heat on the chest of all who attended. For the black community: they have been here before, they share these experiences in their daily lives, they are tired, they are angry. Enough is enough.

Hundreds of miles away in Charleston, South Carolina, Mark and Nicole Gordon were participating in their own local protest. The Fighting Injustices Bridge March had peaceful protestors marching up one of Charleston’s most iconic landmarks, the Ravenel Bridge. Mark is our National Director of Sales and Nicole is a Loan Officer at Princeton Mortgage based in Charleston, South Carolina. As pillars in their community, the Gordon’s started the Meeting Charleston Podcast to sit down with “leaders, movers, and shakers of the Lowcountry.” A recent collaboration with Holy City Sinner, a popular blog led by Christian Senger that serves as a hub for Charleston’s day-to-day happenings, gave life to Uniting Charleston. In this new podcast series, Mark, Nicole, and Christian will be sitting down with Charleston’s activists, local business owners, influencers, elected officials and emerging leaders who want their voices heard in an effort to fight racism and unite Charleston in their fight for equality.

In a recent interview with KJ Kearney, a native resident of North Charleston, activist for social justice initiatives including #BlackFoodFridays, and soon to be non-profit founder, he commented that,

“I have mixed emotions, I will say that I appreciate that for whatever reason, this time around, people are taking this seriously. Black people have been asking for equality, equity, freedom, or for their humanity to be respected, this has been going on for literally hundreds of years. I think seeing a grown man whose mother is dead, call out for his mother, seeing him struggle, seeing him take his last breath…you have to be moved by that. Unfortunately, it took that, but I don’t think his death will be in vain. I feel like actions will be a lot more purposeful and hopefully will be a lot more sustainable going forward. It looks like this time we are picking honesty over fragility. That’s a step in the right direction.”

They also sat down with Joe Cunningham, U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional district. That episode and all other can be found here: Uniting Charleston

Today marks Juneteenth, the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865

to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. Celebrating this year is a stark reminder of how much work still needs to be done nearly 244 years after it was signed. George Floyd was the victim of a horrific abuse of power and acts of violence, and his death was not an isolated occurrence. There are other names that we know - Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till - but unfortunately, far more that we don’t. The murder of George Floyd was the result of police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of systemic racism. The individual first steps towards action that were taking place by myself and the Gordon’s is simply not enough.

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” – Angel Davis

In the weeks since his murder and the resulting global protests, companies have been scrambling to say what Black Lives Matters means to them, but few have taken the time to develop a tangible strategy for authentic and measurable change. Our culture at Princeton Mortgage is built on fostering an environment where motivated people can thrive with freedom and responsibility. Our core values include the ability to be compassionate, humble, radically candid and transparent, embrace change, learning and growing from our mistakes. Anti-racism is about being conscious of how white supremacy is expressed in our institutions, dismantling them, and then building institutions that actively fight racism. As an institution, we didn’t want a hollow message about standing in solidarity with the black community. We wanted and needed to do more. That’s why it was so important and inspiring to receive this message from our CEO, Rich Weidel, whose work at Ecclesia Church and Homefront in New Jersey mirror the same values of social justice that he wishes to instill at Princeton Mortgage:

“I think it’s important that you know what drives me, and what kind of place I want Princeton to be. I am saddened and angered about injustice. I believe that we are all equal in God’s eyes. The natural extension of this core belief is that Black Lives Matter. When I joined Princeton in 2017 my driving mission was to create an environment where people could reach their God-given potential. That mission is what makes what we do worthwhile to me. Sadly, George Floyd, like too many others, never had the chance to reach his God-given potential. Injustice is not new. It has existed in America since our beginning. We must be part of the solution. Princeton will always be a team that stands for opportunity, freedom, and justice. So, what do we do? I think we’ll figure it out together. All action starts with desire. I’m going to work with the team to set a companywide strategy to start moving.”

The list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end unless we collectively use this moment to accelerate our nation's long journey towards justice. While black and brown Americans have never stopped fighting, many others have stepped back from the anti-racist work, going back to the white comfort of letting “not racist” be enough. Silence is deafening. White America must acknowledge its privilege, acknowledge the past and the lasting impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a different kind of future. We have a voice. Whether you use it to post publicly, sign petitions, donate, protest, or vote, please let your voice be heard. If you have nothing to say, educate yourself, listen, or pass the mic. If you’re not sure how you can help support your community, here are some meaningful actions you can take:

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