June 16, 2020

Second Nature’s check-in about the Black Lives Matter movement

As we witness, yet again, the killing of black lives; I am overwhelmed at what each family is enduring. I am also mindful of the vulnerability, empathy, anger and many other emotions of people of color in our country. As a white male I know that I have power and privilege and need much more empathy. It’s a critical part of the work I focus on with my boys in the field.

I have reflected more on my own family and some of our experiences and discussions. Four years ago I had mildly heated debates, with some relatives, about Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of police brutality. Some of my family members believed that he was being disrespectful to the flag. I struggled to understand how anyone could see the humble act of kneeling as disrespectful. I knew that they were lacking empathy. A religious family member was particularly adamant, so I asked him if he was going to stop kneeling when he prayed…since he thought kneeling was disrespectful. He told me that the issues were completely different. I hoped that I could change his mind and help him see that when we lack empathy, then we are part of the problem.

I became aware that many had bought in to the argument that kneeling was disrespectful to the flag and our country. I was saddened at how often I heard this connection. I firmly believed that one could appreciate the freedoms of our country, have deep concerns about the state of our union, and choose to kneel in humble protest of life threatening racial issues. This month I saw those issues come to the surface more clearly. I heard important voices begin to redefine what it means to kneel and what it means to value this country, and most importantly the lives in it.

At Second Nature we have been emotionally impacted by recent events and our own responses. Our team has been processing this intently. We don’t know precisely the role we should take, but we know that sharing our position and thoughts is a step forward. We are processing this with our professional team and with our students. We are hurt, saddened and disgusted at the taking of innocent lives.

• Black Lives Matter
• We are distraught by the killing of George Floyd (and many others)
• We are hopeful that change is happening and will continue, and to that end, we are committed to doing our part
• We are people who care and have dedicated our professional lives to helping families in need, helping individuals see their worth and helping families reconnect
• We are proud that the foundation of our program is acceptance and accountability and strive to foster that in every relationship and every group
• We also recognize that we have biases and limitations and will continue to address those and work through those as they are brought to our attention and in our own therapeutic work and in our own professional development
• We tend to these issues with students individually and as a group
• We understand that these social issues are dominant in the lives of our students of color and we all need to be part of the process and change
• We embrace the sentiment from a recent protest sign that says “We said Black Lives Matter. We never said only Black Lives Matter. We know all lives matter. We just need your help with #BlackLivesMatter for Black lives are in danger
• We encourage engagement in meaningful protest
• We encourage accountability and holding each other to a higher standard of accountablility
• We encourage more engagement in civic and political matters and especially in obtaining awareness of the records of elected officials and the relevant history of those running for office, to inform our vote and raise accountability
• We encourage voting for good and decent people who show compassion, empathy, strength and a willingness to listen and act
• We want to emulate the sentiments found in important recent statements such as “If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.”
• We want to be part of the process and part of important solutions

We are hopeful that we are in the midst of substantial change. We hope that this will influence not only the way we see each other but also the way we treat each other. We will continue to embrace growth in our company and in our personal lives.


Devan Glissmeyer and the Second Nature team

Jenn Charrier-Isenhour, Chad Balagne, Steve Debois, Lu Vaughn, Bryan Lepinske, Tracy Hove, Krista Robbins, Jared Alston, Fred Peipman, Noah Zind, Sue McWilliams, Sarah Mack, Andie Mance & Mary Hickey