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Necessary Uncomfortable Conversations During July 4th


I’m extremely proud to be an American and very fortunate. At the same time in the current climate that we live in, I am also extremely disappointed. I’m disappointed where we stand on issues such as race, racism, and discrimination which includes white privilege, BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQ+ issues, etc. Our communities have had some victories, but we have a long way to go. Even though I’m disappointed, I remain optimistic and hopeful.


One of the key solutions I’ll explore is having tough, real, and uncomfortable conversations. At this time, it does not feel right to say Happy 4th of July. Instead, I am hoping everyone has a nice weekend where you can spend time with family and friends, while socially distancing outside, wearing masks, and keeping safe.


Systemic racism is a corrosive and widespread problem in our society, and we all need to do a better job of confronting it—in our towns and neighborhoods and with ourselves. Start a conversation. Write a journal. Once you know the truth, it’s hard to keep it to yourself. Tell a friend, family, a sibling, a roommate…that systemic racism is real, and we all need to be fighting to end it. I am a white male and am not speaking on behalf of the black community but am trying to help and educate others as best I can. It is of great significance to understand the importance of educating yourself on Black history while trying to understand the systematic challenges Black Americans face. This blog has 3 important topics: BlackLivesMatter, White Privilege, and starting and making sure to continue the tough conversations.


BlackLivesMatter


This is really quite simple – BlackLivesMatter. No one is stating that no other lives matter. Of course, all of our lives matter. BlackLivesMatter is stating the obvious, black lives are at risk because of the color of their skin. If George Floyd was white, he would be alive. Let that sink in. If George Floyd was white, he would be alive. Think about that. Black people are constantly judged and murdered because of their skin color. Folks, that’s why BlackLivesMatter. Here are some stats/examples:


--Black Americans continue to experience the highest overall mortality rates and the most widespread occurrence of disproportionate deaths.


--Roughly half of those fatally shot by police are white, but Black Americans are fatally shot at a disproportionate rate compared to their representation in the US population.


--The Washington Post has compiled one of the most thorough datasets available when it comes to fatal police shootings, and it has sparked debate over what it means when it comes to racial bias in police killings. The data show that more than half of the people fatally shot by police in America within the last five years were actually white — but fatal police shootings of Black people were disproportionately high, considering they account for roughly 13% of the US population. As of June 12, 2,469 white people had been fatally shot since 2015 at rate of13 per million, whereas 1,293 Black people were fatally shot at a rate of31 per million.


White Privilege


I, as a white male, have privilege; known as white privilege. It does not mean that I did not work hard to get where I am today. Of course, I worked hard and continue to do so. It has nothing to do with working hard or feeling overlooked as a member of the middle class. The privilege is that white people do not go through the obstacles that a black person lives every single day of their lives. Some stats/examples:

  • Being followed in a store when you are only shopping for groceries, clothes, etc.

  • Blacks are more likely to appear as perpetrators in drug and violent crime stories

  • Black men are dangerous or aggressive which lead to false assumptions of danger and criminality.

  • Blacks are 2X as likely to be unemployed.

  • Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more of the time than applicants with black-sounding names, even when they have identical resumes. 

  • Black students are 3X more likely than white students to be suspended for the same infractions.

  • Blacks make up 13%. Of the general population, while 40% of the prison population.

  • Blacks are shown 18% fewer home and 4% fewer rental units than whites (Black ownership is now at an all-time low 42%, compared to 72% for whites).

  • Black drivers are 30% more likely to be pulled over.

Conversations

Before COVID19 and the recent racial incidents, I’ve said that we must start and continue having these tough discussions and conversations surrounding race and racism. We are not going to move the needle in the right direction unless we have these conversations. These conversations will not be easy or comfortable and we will make mistakes but that’s ok. BlackLivesMatter, white privilege, among other topics will be discussed – Do Not Avoid but Tackle these issues head on. We all have to start somewhere. Everyone needs to be heard, supported, and be their full authentic selves.


Educating yourself on key issues, figures, events, reading sources written by members of the black community help with having these conversations. Try connecting by remembering a time when you were unheard, bullied, or marginalized. Imagine living like this every day of your life worrying about yourself and your family. Speak to a black person and try to understand their experience. Connect within your own experience.

Organizations need to take the lead with these conversations. As an example, Morgan Stanley’s D&I department promoted intimate conversations about race in networking groups and conducted an hour forum on race in the current social climate.


It starts with education. We need to start teaching children about race and racism. Talk to them about George Floyd and the countless other people of color who were brutally murdered.


It is essential and I highly recommend educating yourself while spending time understanding other cultures other than your own. If you are uncomfortable, that means you are doing the necessary and important work.


This is not a new conversation, we have been talking about this for a long time. It’s time we fix these wrongs. We all need to do more listening. Roland (Don Cheadle) has a much needed conversation with Blanche (Rue McClanahan) about the confederate flag on the CBS TV show, The Golden Palace.




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