A Leader's Message on Race: Expect to be comfortable with the uncomfortable
I want to take a moment to address the racial injustice that have plagued our country since inception but most recently exhibited through the loss of the lives of Ahmaud Arbrey, Brionna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of bad police officers and vigilantes. Last week I sent a message to our division. Yes, and maybe I should have brought it to this leadership team first. But it was imperative that I speak out as your division’s representative. Over the last few days, I have received mostly supportive response, but also critical response. I see people taking sides and politicizing their views from dismantling police on one end to Blue Lives matter on the other end. Let me be clear. I am on the side of right. We do the right thing by brethren, colleagues and customers. It’s not about taking sides… What is happening to our Black brothers and sisters is wrong. No one deserves to die for jogging, pack of cigarettes, $20 bill or sitting comfortably in our home. The fear that black people face daily is real. But this is not a Black problem for Black people to solve. They didn’t create it, nor are they in a power position to resolve it. Everyone on this call is a leader that I trust and have time after time continued to show up well for our customers. I applaud you. If you are on this call and you are not Black, I have three things to ask of you:
1) Reach out to your Black employees and colleagues and check on them. Many of you on the call reached out to me and that touch is like a virtual hug.
2) Transfer this message to your team. Don’t be afraid to say Black and have a designated focus to on your Black employees to ensure they are appreciated, heard and treated with equity.
3) Hold each other accountable. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. One of the reasons we have bad cops is because ignore bad behavior, refuse to speak up and report them. All under the auspice of the blue code of silence. A leader is someone who has the courage and willingness to stand alone. What I am asking may ostracize you. That is a hard place to be for some of us. We need to challenge each other on our conscious and unconscious bias and the overt and covert racial discrimination that exist today.
The great thing is that it is happening. Harassment by people in power has been a part of my life since adolescence. It didn’t matter our family’s economic status, social status, education, job title. It remains a common expectation. But what I have seen this last week with police officers disarming and taking a knee and embracing protesters and calling out bad police officers is mind blowing. Never in my wildest dreams would I expect the crossing of the blue code. Its immensely encouraging.
Thank you for indulging me. We have a lot to go over on the agenda. I will pause for comment.