The answer to the question is yes. There is a time and place to address injustice, and that is every time you see it, and everywhere you see it.
Our country is in a racial crisis, and it is important that none of us turn a blind eye. It may be tempting to pretend as if everything is okay, but each of us must resist the urge to gloss over what is happening. While issues involving racism and police brutality may seem to take place in our social, and “political” arenas, they are unequivocally linked to our workplaces as well. Racial pressures impact diverse employees in profound ways, and we must ensure that those employees are receiving the support they need as many of their communities are under even greater attack. Recognize that your diverse colleagues and friends are burdened by race-related stressors, which can negatively impact their physiological and psychological health.
Right now, there are people – online and in-person – who are suggesting that George Floyd deserved to be murdered, that Black people are “animals” who deserve to be mistreated, that rights for the Black community are not worth fighting for, and much more. There are people who are focusing solely on the destruction of property during this crisis, and prioritizing capitalist loss over the destruction of Black lives in this society. So many of our colleagues and friends are experiencing the effects of these statements, but this is nothing new. Throughout history, our Black colleagues and friends have consistently been fed the message that their community does not matter – that their community deserves less. While that message is not true, it is still incredibly taxing. If you are a non-Black person, and you believe that this taxing rhetoric is not true, then you must speak up. You must speak up when talking to family, when talking to friends, when talking to coworkers, and when talking to complete strangers. You must speak up while at home, at the supermarket, at work, at the golf course, at the bar, and in any other setting where you may find yourself. You must speak up when the racism is “big and loud” – like when you hear an overt slur – but also when the racism is more insidious – like when you notice that your diverse colleagues are consistently talked over and disregarded in meetings, or when you hear “little” statements which promote stereotypes and biases against one group of people.
If you are a non-Black person in the workplace, accept that you may enjoy privileges that your Black counterparts may not necessarily have. You can acknowledge that you are a great person, and that you worked hard to get where you are while still acknowledging that you have privileges. Privileges are okay. Being privileged is not bad. Privilege becomes a negative when it is wielded to oppress others, and when it is not used to support those around you. Use your platforms – personal, social, professional, and financial – to support others. If you fear that speaking up for the Black community will negatively impact you, imagine what that means for your Black colleagues and friends whose identities speak up for them everyday – whether they like it or not. Do not give in to being silent because you do not think this is your problem. Racism is a problem for all of us, as it impacts our societal ecosystem very deeply; silence only allows for racism to grow in new places, and for it to multiply in those spaces where it has always been.
If you have any thoughts on how racial crises impact our professional lives and/or thoughts on what we can do to better support diverse individuals during these crises, take this five-question survey.
Visit the links below for information on:
- being an ally;
- donating to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund;
- supporting the Minnesota Freedom Fund and similar organizations;
- recognizing the tension between policy work and protests; and
- understanding why the Black Lives Matter movement is necessary.
If your organization is interested in remote workshops and trainings related to racial tensions, diversity, inclusion, and/or equity, reach out to Grow By Three.