A message to our colleagues, clients and partners:
Since the Minneapolis Police Department officers killed George Floyd, there have been thousands of protests. In addition to George Floyd, there are the stories of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and a long history of Black bodies and lives taken.
These protests took place in a week when a white woman in New York City’s Central Park called police and told them a black man was threatening her when in fact he was calmly asking her to follow the park’s dog leashing laws. She did this in a culture where his status as an African American male could cause him physical harm at the hands of the police.
We have heard the President, among many other incendiary and divisive statements, urge Governors to “dominate” protestors, chastising those who chose not to do so as “weak.” All of this while the United States deals with a pandemic where more than 20% of the population is unemployed and more than 110,000 people have lost their lives. Notably, a disproportionate number of those who have died are people of color.
These were not isolated incidents that can only be blamed on the individuals. They are examples of the pervasive and systemic racism in the U.S. Each of these incidents is also having an impact on the hearts and minds of the people who work in the many private and public organizations who are our clients.
Now, more than ever, those with power and authority—the Insiders—need to wield it with a vision for equity and justice, and lead with responsibility, courage and compassion.
Insiders in positions of leadership—mostly white-skinned, mostly men—need to step in and sponsor systemic and structural change in their organizations. These leaders have an immense opportunity to create equity for all their people regardless of race. Silence and inaction maintain the status quo of racism.
Our hope for this country is that white people see the pivotal role they play in interrupting the devastation of structural racism and unconscious bias. Whites must step up. We face an opportunity to chart a new course, to engage all whites to examine how they manifest their unconscious racism and in turn, perpetuate systemic disadvantage for people of color.
The time is now to create a more inclusive world. The protests show us that. Notice the diversity of the protestors; they are black, brown, white and many other shades of skin color. The protests are happening all over the country and the world. This provides us hope.
There is much work to be done. If not now, when?
Stand together. Now more than ever.
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