Reflections on Race: 'My hope is that people are actually, genuinely listening'


Southampton school counselor Jalai Duroseau says in the wake of George Floyd's death, he put up social media posts in support of Black Lives Matter. A co-worker messaged him, worrying that what he was saying could get him in trouble within the community.
"This is not political, and I'm like and if it was, if this is considered political -- I don't get to go home and take my skin off every day," he said. "I have to live with these decisions of being able to speak out on the fact that I am a Black man and I could be George Floyd, I could be any of the unarmed Black men who got killed for any reason."
Duroseau talked about his upbringing, including how he fell in love with Southampton and a period of time where he lived in a homeless shelter. He says as a counselor, he hopes to help kids who were in tough situations like he was.
He says he was asked in an interview how he would handle walking in his school, knowing he looks different than many of his students and their families.
"For me, it was nothing I was ever worried about. I always had the approach of, I'm going to meet you where you're at, and do what's best for my kids," he says. "At the end of the day ... I'm here as a child advocate. I empower them."
Duroseau says changes in society will take time, and he hopes people are willing to have tough conversations needed to make those changes.
"My hope is that people are actually, genuinely listening," he says. "If you were completely ignorant, living in your own bubble of a world, you can't expect to be 100% getting things right all of the time."
But in the end, Duroseau hopes people see him for who he is.
"I hope they see a person walking around happy," he says. "For some people, they see what they want to see. They see the color of my skin and it starts there. Then you add it to the tattoos, add it to the certain age, walking around ... the floodgates open with the questions in people's minds, at least in my head, because those are the kind of looks I get."