Change Must Be Inevitable
It was an easy decision to insert our firm into the #BlackLivesMatter conversation, advocacy and movement. Deciding the context in which we would participate was far more difficult. The first inclination is to take up a cause, show your support for an organization, volunteer, raise money, assess your own hiring practices. Those efforts, individually or collectively, certainly have merit.
Historically, many organizations, including our own, reactively threw ourselves into a cause to demonstrate our alignment. Those domestic, even global crises of society that have boiled up in recent years– #metoo, #gunviolence, #covid19 – plague our country and our world. And yes, they deserve our attention. While we are quick to insert #BlackLivesMatter into the important conversations that shape our business and personal lives, we must first take a step back to school ourselves on the 400-year history of inequality and power. Without this perspective, we will struggle to understand its true nature. Ultimately, we will fall short of the imperative – to not just change our mindset, but actively work to disrupt the structures and policies that landed us where we are today.
We recognize that neutrality is not an option in the racism struggle. Ibram X. Kendi in his book How to Be an Antiracist says directly: “One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is not in between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”
To even acknowledge those perspectives mean taking the time to listen and learn first. Before throwing ourselves into action, we have instead thrown ourselves into education. Books, podcasts, movies – see why we read. As we immersed, we ideated. We agreed we needed a platform that could take root in our organization, that could offer us a longer term means of contributing. Language is both a powerful and polarizing medium.
The Ignorance Project candidly was a first consideration. We thought, let’s try to isolate the problem, afterall, ignorance has been a long-standing culprit that drives many of the poor choices we make. However, we came to the conclusion that ignorance alone is not enough of a motivator for change, nor is it the cause of systemic racism—which is more about how those in power continue to enact policies to further their financial or political goals and then create racist ideas to support these policies.
Then we locked in on All Means All. Our focus would begin with a constitutional pursuit to expand or more literally define … “All people, races, ethnicities and genders are created equal with unalienable rights ….” Once again, we took a step back and realized that today, “All” is a polarizing word. Eliminating race is not the answer. The idea of a color-blind society does nothing to end the racist policies and ideas that permeate our nation.
The process to find our purpose was not easy, but it was therapeutic. We landed on Voice4Change – Radicate, Advocate, Communicate and Educate. Our mission offers us a flexible and sustainable way to embed it into our culture, to support organizations whose voices need amplifying and to throw our creative energy at not just equality—wherein everyone has the same chances, resources, etc. but actually equity—where everyone gets what they need to succeed. Focusing on equity means acknowledging the differences in resources and treatment thar exist in racial groups across our country.
So for organizations trying to figure out their next move. We suggest they first embrace the importance of the moment and decide the most effective path to educate the organization in a sustainable, culture-rich way. From there, needs will appear. Ideas will follow. Change will come. www.voice4changeproject.com.