As I held my phone and watched the horrifying video of George Floyd, I like most, found uncontrollable tears run down my face. My mind immediately raced back to when I was a little girl, so very affected and frightened by the race riots. Then, I thought about the poem I wrote that same year for a contest for principal-of-the-day. It was entitled “Brotherhood”:

Something sought and talked about but seldom understood

To love, to need, to understand

A word called Brotherhood

A rather large word, with a larger meaning of course!

A communicating, heart bonding, hand holding force

Now take this word and pass it to another

And truly say ‘my brother’.

Almost 50 years from writing this poem…another black man has died for absolutely no reason. I want real change. We can no longer stand by while the world is burning with hatred, racism, religious persecution, lack of charity, failure to HONOR EACH HUMAN LIFE, and silently watch the homeless, the sick, the hungry, the unaccepted, the most vulnerable.

I am proud to work with the most loving, supportive members of the Paterson Bd. Of Ed who to date have provided over 500,00 meals at our distribution sites not to mention all our Community partners; St. Paul’s Community Development, Oasis, The Boys and Girls Club, Community Development Corp (NJCDC), New Destiny Family Success Center, they are family who care for our community and embrace their needs with open hearts. They inspire me each and every day to support my staff at our Full Service Community School Health Centers. Our team of Treatment Coordinators and Mental Health Providers have been working endless hours reaching out to families. I want this to become the contagious virus that will overthrow all the pain of COVID-19 and the unthinkable murder of George Floyd.

We are here to continue to support our community and invite each of you who read this post to join our ‘Virtual Community Circles’ next week. Please refer to our posting of scheduled times on this site. It is a safe space led by our therapists.

Do not let the life of George Floyd be remembered as a horrific video display, but may his life inspire us to make real change. Not accept the injustice, but work toward the healing peacefulness of brotherhood. I pray his life not be in vain. His life mattered. Black Lives Matter.

Denise Hajjar, MS

Health N’ Wellness Services, LLC