From the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police to the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own home, recent crimes against Black people in the US have left millions of people paralyzed. These events not only underscore what it is to be Black in America right now, but also all around the world too. Seeing individuals become victims of racial profiling, acts of violence and police brutality is enough to make anyone feel helpless, especially if you live elsewhere.
But now, we say enough is enough. These racial injustices have sparked fury across the nation and planet as a whole. Our community (black and white) has collectively echoed three simple words that express how everyone feels – “We are tired.” This is why movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement is taking concrete actions to show that violence against Black people will not be tolerated as we move towards the end goal of dismantling systemic racism.
In the words of American author Scott Woods, “Racism is a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values fired up every time we interact. It is that thing we must keep scooping out of the boat of life to keep us from drowning.” And the nation is definitely scooping! At the moment, we are witnessing activism, gatherings, marches and protests against racism. And if you’re not able to protest in the streets but still want to show support for the cause, there are plenty of other ways to engage. You can educate yourself and those around you, volunteer, donate, among other things. Veloxy shares 6 different ways that you and your company can take a stand against racial inequalities and make the world a better place.
1: Educate Yourself
As we take the journey towards learning more about justice and racial equality, you might feel upset, uncomfortable, angry or even disturbed. If you’re battling with these feelings, then you’re on the right track. The Black community experiences these emotions every single day. And now that you’ve decided to do something about it, it’s always wise to start by educating yourself.
Now is the best time to engage in anti-racism work. Try to read and familiarize yourself with documents like ‘Anti-racism resources for white people.’ This document was compiled by Sarah Flicker and Alyssa Klein with the intention of giving people helpful and respectful ways to kick off this crucial journey. Likewise, try to support Black-owned bookstores and read up on books such as “How to Be an Antiracist” and “So You Want to Talk About Race.” Once you’ve educated yourself, it’s time to move outside your comfort zone and onto the next step.
2: Create Awareness in Non-Black Spaces
After reading up and educating yourself on racial injustices, you can’t stop there. Keeping quiet is just as bad as supporting racist words and actions. What you have to do now is speak up in non- Black spaces and create awareness among your friends, families and colleagues. Being a white person or a non-black person of color, you’ve probably heard or seen anti-Black racism from one source or the other. But as uncomfortable as it might be, you need to stand up in these awkward moments and let people know that any form of racism or discrimination is outright unacceptable.
In this day and age, you must be hyper aware of such spaces lacking racial diversity and do everything in your power to change it without compromise. Be open, listen to other people’s perspectives. Then do what you can to engage in open discussions with any and every one. Speak the truth, and treat racism with the hostility it deserves. And most importantly, be ready stomp out racism loud and proud wherever you come across it.
3: Show Empathy towards the Black Community
Showing empathy for your fellow man is what makes us all human: siblings from different nationalities. As a business leader, you have to understand that your Black colleagues and employees are heavily traumatized by the ongoing racial violence and inequalities. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re also processing the disproportionate effects of COVID 19 on the community.
But before you can even begin checking in with your Black colleagues, make sure you’re well educated on the facts before following up with seemingly insensitive questions. And if your company doesn’t have a Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) what are you waiting for? Now is the time to take a stand, get comfortable, and participate in personal politics that drive change for the community.
As we mentioned above, just because you can’t show up in the streets to protest doesn’t mean you can’t show your support for the Black community in other ways. What better way to shout out than by putting your money where your mouth is? You can exercise your power to help by showing financial support. Here’s a mutual aid document compiled by students of Fordham University which shows all the different ways you can give.
These include donating to fundraisers (i.e. The George Floyd Memorial Fund, Official Justice for Breonna Taylor Memorial Fund), individual and direct funds, mutual aid funds such as Minneapolis public housing residents, jail support funds as well as other monies for utilities and supplies for protestors. Give freely, give widely, and give generously, for now is the time.
5: Why Take Space when you can Make It?
Are you in a space that includes black voices? Well, rather than fill up the space with your own voice and opinions, why not work to elevate their perspectives and voices? Of course, no one person is the ultimate spokesman for the entire community. So always check to make sure the Black voices in your space are comfortable before asking them to share or speaking on their behalf.
For instance, some organizations have safe spaces known as Equality Circles. In these spaces, Black employees and partners can lead the conversation on the issue of racism. Consider setting up similar systems in your work space to ensure that your Black employees and allies are the ones leading the conversation during this urgent time. However, it’s also important to understand that your Black ERG doesn’t have all the answers. As such, it’s up to you to develop a strategy and bring in professionals to support your employees and the organizational changes required to counter systemic racism.
Final Words – Black Lives Matter
There’s not a human alive who doesn’t know that it’s wrong to discriminate against others based solely on the color of their skin. However, I think we can all agree that while most of us are not racist, we definitely fall short when it comes to showing real support for the Black community. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “For it is not enough to talk about peace, one must believe it. And even then believing is not enough; one must work hard at it.”
So take the time to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Have the courage to speak up loudly against systemic racism wherever it may rear its ugly head. And most importantly, have the humanity to view all people as one because in the end, no one nationality, culture or community is more important than the others. It takes all types to make the world go round. There is beauty in diversity.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Marian Anderson – “No matter how massive a nation is, it will never be stronger than its weakest links. So as long as you keep one group of people down, know that part of you has to remain down there holding them down; keeping you from soaring as high as you might otherwise have.”