It Starts with Us
For nearly 30 years, I’ve tried to lead an organization built on the ideals of hard work, professionalism, thought leadership, equality and respect.
One of The Council’s stated values is that we listen and drive change. Today, that is needed more than ever.
I have spent the past few weeks in a sad state. What happened to George Floyd and countless others before him is unacceptable. We can face the facts and build trust, or we can sit idly by for the next murder and the next riot.
I can never pretend to understand the level of pain that some members of our communities are going through, but I commit to you that I’m going to try.
I have read a lot in recent weeks to help me empathize with the experiences of the Black community. I care deeply about integrity, justice and peace. I care deeply about people who are victimized for being different. The most personal way for me to relate is through the eyes of my two (Asian) boys who are confused and scared. Being a parent means answering their tears. How do you explain this to your children when you can’t explain it to yourself?
We can no longer just hope that every citizen is afforded the same rights, receives the same treatment, and can peacefully enjoy the freedom promised to every American. Something has to change. We need to be honest about confronting racism. We need to listen with open hearts, commit to educating ourselves, and show compassion to one another. And then we need to turn thought into action.
Robert. F. Kennedy said in his speech announcing the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.”
I want to move in a direction where there’s dialogue. That’s what helps people understand. That’s what keeps people safe.
I want to move in a direction where there’s more listening. And I mean truly listening to what other people are saying, to what they are feeling and experiencing. That’s what builds trust.
To help us along, I encouraged my staff to watch ESPN’s Emmanuel Acho’s YouTube episode “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” It’s a candid piece aimed at helping educate and inform viewers about racism, social injustice, rioting and the hurt African Americans are feeling today.
I’ve worried recently about saying the wrong thing, but what I learned from this video is that being open and honest and speaking from your heart is a good thing and that dialogue filled with tension is also a good thing. Because only when we come together in authentic dialogue will we see the needle start to move in the direction toward a more peaceful existence.