Disruptive Activism I June 2020
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Dear White People:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say (or don’t say) or do (or don’t do) can and will be used against you in a court of Black public opinion.
An unarmed Black man was murdered by police yesterday, last week, last month and for the last damn time. Enough is enough. Fifty years since the American Civil Rights Movement and Black people have seen minimal progress in the fight against Black male genocide. Nooses hanging from trees have been replaced by bullets in backs, and knees on necks. Decades of demonstrations, countless years of marching, and peaceful protests have failed Black people for centuries. We are tired of kneeling only to be pushed to our death by the very people who are supposed to protect us.
A Black person is killed by police every 40 hours. The world bore witness to this alarming statistic and inhumane murder of a detained Black man. Black people did not need a video to go viral to understand the magnitude of police brutality in America. Excessive and deadly force is not new, it’s the norm, and it’s now being recorded. George Floyd pleaded for his last breath as police pinned his lifeless body to the pavement while Officer Chauvin kneeled proudly as if he were beating his chest after conquering his prey. The viral video has taken over social media, surpassed all COVID19 news coverage as the REAL pandemic --- the global War on Black Men.
Widespread vocal discontentment with rioting and looting while silent on the killing of an unarmed Black man in police custody is shameful. As white people sit silently in their white privilege, I challenge them to stand up and speak out against the grave injustices Black people experience everyday. From the boardroom to the block, we cannot escape the trauma of our workplaces and neighborhoods. Beyond social media posts, likes and retweets, I need to see disruptive activism. I need our allies to be part of the solution and the dismantling of the structures that were put in place long before they were born but still benefit from today.
Here are five simple action steps to lean in, learn and leverage your privilege:
1. Educate yourself on US history and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI).
Black history is US history. Albeit painful, America has yet to have the difficult conversation on the impacts of institutional racism, the genocide of Native Americans, theft of lands, and the enslavement of Black people. Expand your library and audible book list to be more inclusive of Black authors and topics. As you begin your DEI journey, White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria by Beverly Tatum and The Memo by Minda Harts are books I often recommend and gift to clients.
2. Grow in your allyship.
Listen with empathy to the experiences of your Black friends and colleagues (assuming you have some). Challenge leaders to prioritize DEI in your workplace and hold them accountable. CEO antiracism statements carefully crafted by CDOs and catchy campaigns curated by PR firms are no longer being applauded without action. One act of allyship does not make you an ally. You can no longer standby and witness blatant acts of racism, bias’ and microaggressions without action. Bystanders must be trained to intervene and advocate for colleagues without consequences and fear of retaliation.
3. Volunteer and donate.
Get involved outside of your community. Give your time and money. Research and support organizations that focus on racial justice and criminal justice reform.
4. Mentor Black people and advocate for their advancement.
Seek out mentees in your organization or communities of color and be open to reverse mentoring as you have much to learn.
Don’t allow your silence to be an accomplice to the senseless murder of another unarmed Black man at the hands of thugs in uniform.