Excuse me, would you like to be seated?

No thank you. I don’t want a seat at the table! I am not rude, nor am I unappreciative of your invite. I just think your invite to sit at the table is too late. Let me explain.

I want you to be with me when we: 1) co-locate the spot to find the materials to build the table (Bad materials make bad tables.); 2) design the framework for the table (Bad table design makes for bad or unintended table outcomes/results.); 3) correct the mistakes we will make when we start building the table (Scientists require many tests/trials before they are confident to move forward with their solutions. An educated guess requires re-education before you sometimes have to guess again.); 4) sandpaper the wood (If you make the wood for the table smooth before I get there, I won’t appreciate the rough spots you sandpapered away before I arrived. I also won’t appreciate the rough spots we find together in case there are more along the way.); 5) layout the plan/framework to build the table (Poor planning leads to poor performance and unintended outcomes/results. The need for the table may have changed since we designed the framework earlier in the process.); 6) build the table together (Joint work is co-work. I don’t need you telling me how to build the table if you are not actually willing to build it yourself.); 7) determine if the table is still relevant for the purpose we built it (The table is finished, but the desired outcomes may be different since it took so long to build the table. We may NEED a BIGGER and MORE INCLUSIVE table.); 8) arrange the seats for the table (Where and when seating takes place is important. Some people may need to be excused from the table as well.); and 9) finally sit down at the table to get the work done. (We need the right tools at the table when we sit down so we can keep building. If you spent all of our money on the table, the table is just window dressing and not a work table.)

I don’t want a seat at the table!

#FadetoBlack #equityactions

JB

How Do Black Lives Matter?

I can soon learn to do it,
If you let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in motion,
But your tongue too fast may run,
And the lectures you deliver,
May be very fine and true,
but I’d rather get my lesson,
By observing what you do,
For I may misunderstand you,
and the fine advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding,
How you act and how you live.

Live Your Creed
Langston Hughes

Today I am hosting a garage sale. This is actually a forced garage sale. No payments by cash or credit card will be accepted. Only payments accepted will be IOU payments. The terms of accepting IOUs is different than most garage sales, however you will see the importance of these valuable IOU transactions. IOU = Action.

All Black Lives Matter paraphernalia must go. We are requiring Black Lives Matter signs, t-shirts, buttons, masks, hats, chapstick, corporate displays, on field/court logos, license plate holders. blankets, water bottles, swim caps and Facebook/IG frames to be sold immediately! If there are paraphernalia that has not been listed above it still must be sold. This includes items labeled BLM, Say Their Names, No Justice No Peace, Economic Justice, Prosecute the Police, etc. EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Some of you have asked why the forced sale of all of these classic items? Well, I am glad you asked. Let me explain. It appears that Black Lives Matter items have lost their meaning. The market has been saturated and it seems everyone has something that says Black Lives Matter or BLM. While most products would be excited for a saturated market, BLM and Black Lives Matter products diminish in value as they become apparel adjectives and not apparel verbs. As they have become more viewable and less actionable, the value of these once valued products after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor is now gone. EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Although EVERYTHING MUST GO, the Black Lives Matter/BLM buy back program is in effective during the mandatory sale. The sale of BLM and Black Lives Matter items is required, however if you would like to keep your paraphernalia during this time you can request a buy back certificate. The buy back certificate is non-negotiable and non-transferable. The buy back certificate must be redeemed in person and the certificate requires ACTION. The certificate redeemer must answer the question, How do Black Lives Matter? The answer to the question must be accompanied by personal words and personal ACTIONS! The words to the answer the question are less important than the actions. Let me explain.

The Larsens

The Larsen family has been summoned to bring their Black Lives Matter and BLM materials to the auction for sale. They have lawn signs bumper stickers, masks, t-shirts and other items. Mr. Larsen is a senior VP at a large international company. Mrs. Larsen is a board member of a well funded private school where their children attend high school. In order to keep their cherished BLM/Black Lives Matters items, the Larsen family have asked to use their buy back certificate and answer the question How do Black Lives Matter? Some of the questions posed to the family to use their certificate include the following:

Mr. Larsen

How do Black Lives Matter when your company has no Black people on their board of directors or on their CEO’s senior leadership team and you have not spoken up about this issue to your company?

How do Black Lives Matter when your company has never recruited students from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) and has never had a Black intern in the last 25 years and you have not spoken up about it?

How do Black Lives Matter when you have no Black neighbors within a 10 mile radius of your home and no Black friends? Have you have done anything to change this?

Ms. Larsen

How do Black Lives Matter when for the last 10 years your volunteer political and non-profit fundraisers have never included a Black person in the audience and none have been invited except for the former President of the United States?

How do Black Lives Matter when some of your best friends have called the police on Black people driving through your neighborhood, using your public parks and shopping in your local stores and you have never had a conversation with them about their racist behavior and they are still your friends?

How do Black Lives Matter when you and your family have never spent any money with a Black owned business or hired a Black owned contractor for any work or services for any of the numerous organizations where you serve on the board of directors?

The Larsen Kids

How Do Black Lives Matter when the only time you see Black kids is when you go and march at a protest?

How do Black Lives Matter when your friends have consistently made derogatory comments about Black and African kids and you have never said anything to them and yet they remain your friends?

How do Black Lives Matter when you have never asked your Black friends how they want to matter, how they want you to show up for them and what you can do to end systemic racism, including reading and learning on your own.

Are You a Member of the Larsen Family?

What are you going to do? The Larsen family could be your family. The Larsen family could be your philanthropic organization. The Larsen family could be your corporation. The Larsen family could be your church. The Larsen Family could be your anti-racist book club. The Larsen family could be your CEO statement about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The Larsen Family could be your multi-billion dollar sports organization with Black Lives Matter on the court or end zone, but with no, or very few, Black people in ownership, executive leadership, head coach positions or general manager positions. The Larsen family could be you. The Larsen family is you.

Are you merely wearing BLM and Black Lives Matter paraphernalia or are you demonstrating through YOUR ACTIONS, HOW BLACK LIVES MATTER. Are you merely calling yourself an ally or social justice supporter, or can someone look at your actions and see that you really mean it. Where are your receipts that show the results of your actions?

Are you abandoning anti-racist, racial trauma, inclusion and diversity training because of a Presidential executive order that calls such trainings unpatriotic and anti-American, or are you standing up for equity, inclusion and justice and doing these trainings anyway because they are needed to address and dismantle systemic racism.

Are you admiring the problem of small Black businesses going out of business because of Covid19 and damages from civil unrest, or are you intentionally investing in those businesses.

Are you watching CEOs make statements about not being able to find Black talent to hire and therefore implying that causes the lack of diversity in hiring at his organization? Are you letting these type of statements go, or are you making a statement against those ill informed comments and also showing through your actions that Black talent is not only available, but being hired by and working at your company.

Are you living your best Black Lives Matter Life? Black Lives Matter/BLM is an Action Apparel Line. If you wear it, you will be asked How Black Lives Matter and what are you doing to make sure they matter. You may be asked for your receipts to show not only your purchase of paraphernalia, but also receipts that show your actions to end white supremacy, invest in anti-racism actions, invest in hiring and retaining Black people and investing in Black owned businesses. If no receipts are available for your anti racist actions, you may want to ask yourself, what does Black Lives Matter mean to you and how do others know it and see it in your actions.

JB

#FadetoBlack

I ain’t white, so I don’t know what YOU should do.

Stop. Don’t run away. I know the title may scare you a little, but don’t run from this word. I know the title and grammar (ain’t) is not Minnesota Nice, but don’t click away and just say, “that is interesting.” For those of you that don’t speak Minnesota Nice, “that is interesting” is a passive aggressive way to criticize something or someone without being direct or confrontational. Before you decide not to read this blog post, take a few minutes and breathe.

Realize that this blog will not physically or emotionally hurt you. Realize that if the title of, or reading this blog makes you uncomfortable, well maybe it is time for you to be uncomfortable. Realize that if your discomfort causes you to think differently, be uncomfortable as you think differently. Realize if your discomfort causes you to doubt your beliefs and question your values, be uncomfortable. This blog will not set you free or make you feel better about witnessing the murder of George Floyd. It will not show YOU what to do to feel better or solve 400 plus years of racial oppression. I ain’t white, so remember I don’t know what YOU should do. Hopefully, this post will instead guide you towards self reflection so that you and others like you can make a personal change that will be a catalyst towards systems change and racial justice.

Being a Black leader in equity, diversity and inclusion is very tiring these days. Everybody keeps asking me, James, WHAT SHOULD I DO? You may ask why is this question in all caps. Well, I will tell you. It feels like I hear this question when I wake up, when I sleep, and when I dream. It gets louder and louder throughout the day. The question is typically asked by my white friends and colleagues. This question started being asked over and over again after Memorial Day, 2020. You might ask what happened that day, however I think you already know. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer was captured on video on Memorial Day. The 8 minute and 46 second video prompted the thought, but I think the question of “What Should I Do?” was posed only after millions of people throughout the world marched, protested and participated in civil unrest. This unrest led to buildings and structures being damaged. The protesters demanded change in policing and an end to racism. So think about it. It took an 8 minute and 46 second televised murder, for you to ask me, “What should YOU do?” It took the televised modern day lynching of a Black Man, destruction of buildings and world wide economic disruption for you to ask what should YOU do about racial, social and economic justice, as well as ending police brutality and racial inequities. Let that sink in for a minute.

I ain’t white, so I don’t know what YOU should do. However, I do know what the system needs for sustainable change that will move towards ending racial injustice. I do have some recommendations for you and your potential role in changing this system change.

1. YOU should sit in YOUR discomfort caused by the current situation. A Black, man, George Floyd, was murdered. CoVid19 and it’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, especially the Black community, and civil unrest after the murder of Mr. Floyd has caused high unemployment, the elimination of Black economic gains, and the unintended destruction of Black owned businesses. Unfortunately, many of these businesses will not return. Since 1619, America has enslaved, lynched, segregated, murdered, imprisoned and economically destroyed Black people. This systemic racism continues through 2020. So taking this in to consideration, rather than try to DO Something (an action), listen and learn something through self reflection (sit in it) and learn how we got here so you can fully and collaboratively engage in how we can collectively end systemic racism. Don’t rush to DO SOMETHING to just make you feel better. Sit in it.

2. YOU should not think that placing a Black Lives Matter sign on your lawn makes it better. You should not think changing the image of Aunt Jemina on a syrup container makes it better. You should not think that intensely celebrating Juneteenth makes it better. You should not think reading an anti-racism book makes it better. You should not think playing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, before NFL games makes it better. Once again, I ain’t white, so I don’t know what YOU should do. However, for system change to occur you may have to do more than simple gestures. YOU MAY HAVE TO INVEST YOUR TIME TALENT AND RESOURCES to make a significant change. . Don’t rush to DO SOMETHING to just make you feel better. Sit in it.

3. YOU should not expect Black people to dismantle racism. White people created systemic racism. White people benefit from systemic racism and white people have a lot to lose if we truly adopt racial equity and eliminate systemic racism. Eliminating racism is not a zero sum game, however it will change the way the game is played and who benefits most from the game. So rather than ask Black people what should YOU do, it may be helpful to inquire and soul search with your white colleagues as to what Y’ALL (another non Minnesota Nice grammar usage) should do to disrupt and dismantle the system that was created for your benefit. Ask your white colleagues what Y’ALL should do to redistribute wealth and create access to opportunities so that equity is reflected in your community and your businesses. This does not mean that you cannot collaborate and partner with your Black colleagues to address systemic racism. Instead, it means that they should not SOLELY be asked to solve a problem that was not designed or implemented by them or for their benefit. Don’t rush to DO SOMETHING to just make you feel better. Sit in it.

4. YOU should not rush to do something, before you build relationships with Black people. If you build relationships first, Black people can tell you when you are “Doing Too Much.” Let me tell you why this is important. After the civil unrest in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, and the destruction of office buildings and stores, many people donated food to the Black community. The donations were heartfelt and needed. The donations assisted the community. However, the donations seemed to be endless and were not aligned with leaders of community organizations receiving and distributing the donations. So the donations kept coming and the people kept dropping off food and then driving back home. Because some of the donors had no relationship with the Black community, the donations overflowed in churches and community centers. Instead of asking the simple question, “what else do you need and how can we help,” the donors kept “doing too much.” You should build relationships and continually ask the the community what they need. The community will tell you if you ask them. They may even already have what they need to be successful in the community. The community will be more responsive in partnerships and collaborative if there is authentic engagement and joint problem solving. Don’t rush to DO SOMETHING to just make you feel better. Sit in it.

5. YOU should not expect to DO ANYTHING that is going to make you feel better after witnessing the murder of George Floyd. Let me repeat this one, YOU should not expect to DO ANYTHING that is going to make you feel better after witnessing the murder of George Floyd. Once you realize this important fact, you will not rush to do something quickly or urgently. Instead, you will be reflective and thoughtful. You will ask yourself this question. “Am I preparing myself for sustained action rather than a quick fix that makes me feel better? Let me give you an example. Many organizations want to invest in addressing police brutality and social and economic disparities in the Black community. They want to DO SOMETHING right away to solve these problems. However, these proposed solutions are grounded in strategies and ideas that have previously not worked. These solutions are grounded in systemic racism and have led to Minnesota having some of the largest racial disparities in education, employment, health, housing and economic development. Before you DO SOMETHING, you may want to establish and build relationships with some of the community members that have been protesting and demanding change. You may find their ideas creative and valuable for long range systemic change. If you begin change without their partnership, your DOING SOMETHING will be for naught. Don’t rush to DO SOMETHING to just make you feel better. Sit in it.

I ain’t white, so I don’t know what YOU should do. However, I do know if you really want to have sustained change for racial justice, do not rush to do something that makes you feel better. Do not rush to do something that will get you a few headlines. Instead, sit in it, learn, reflect, build new relationships and make a difference with your next move.

JB

Happy 4th of July? Nah…….I’m Good.

Are you grappling with, or unsure of how you should approach July 4, 2020? If so, that is the first step to answering your favorite question, “What should I do?” Sit, listen and learn. Realize that:

1619 – First Enslaved Africans Arrive in USA
1776 – Birth of USA: 3/5 of a human
1863/65 – End of Slavery? (Not really)

1865 – 2020 – Slave Codes, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Segregation, Police Brutality, Discrimination, Intentional Bias, Redlining, Health, Education and Economic Inequality, Gentrification, Racial Covenants, Mass Incarceration, and Racism, Racism, Racism.

In 1776, the USA was born and slaves existed for the next 100 years. Racism continued and continues. After you listen and learn, realize your current solutions that you want to institute immediately must include more than Juneteenth Celebrations, Black National Anthem at NFL games, Aunt Jemima being removed from syrup and corporate statements. In the words of the SOS Band, Take Your Time and Do It Right!

Happy 4th of July? Nah………..I’m good.

JB

Celebrate Juneteenth – #EquityActions

The moment has turned into a movement and the movement requires Equity Actions! Movements are life changing, sustainable, system changing and disruptive. George Floyd’s murder was not just a 8:46 moment, it instead is the catalyst for a worldwide movement that is changing the way we appreciate Being Black in America. How do I know the world is changing? I know because today many people from far and wide wished me “Happy Juneteenth.”

You may ask yourself why is wishing me or anyone else “Happy Juneteenth” changing the world. I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you how. Do you remember where you were last Juneteenth? Do you remember what you did that day? Do you remember what acts of service you did that day? Do you remember who you wished Happy Junteenth? Do you remember how many corporations wished their employees “Happy Juneteenth” and let those employees have the day off? I wonder what are your answers to these questions. I guess I should have started with this important question. Did your white friends and some of your Black friends even know of Juneteenth and when it occurred. Think about it, I’ll wait.

This post is not about Juneteenth. If you are interested in learning more about Juneteenth, please Google it. After you read up on Juneteenth, realize that it is not a Black Holiday or Black History moment. Juneteenth is an important piece of American history that is conveniently left out of the history books similar to many accomplishments and celebrations of Black people in America. I digress. This post is not about Juneteenth, instead it is about Equity Actions that should take place after Juneteenth is over.

In order to understand and consider these proposed equity actions, we must examine what we have witnessed on Juneteenth this year.

Corporations have made public statements about Junteenth.

Corporations have given employees Juneteenth, as a paid holiday.

Corporations have invested in Juneteenth events for their Black Employee Networks.

CEOs have attended Juneteenth educational seminars to learn about the history of Juneteenth.

Media outlets and media companies have declared it “Juneteenth Day” and have offered free viewing of movies defined as Juneteenth or Black Lives Matter collections.

Retail stores have offered Juneteenth discounts on purchases.

Corporations have created videos discussing the history and importance of Juneteenth.

White people have said Happy Juneteenth more today than they have in the last 20 years.

White suburban America has created Juneteenth celebrations planned throughout the entire weekend.

Juneteenth memes, t-shirt’s, cups and other paraphernalia are being purchased at an increased level.

Elected officials are consistently mentioning Juneteenth in speeches and voter registration drives.

Juneteenth has taken on a new identity and its popularity far exceeds the previous 154 years of Juneteenth celebrations.

I am grateful for the recognition of Juneteenth this year. It deserves the recognition, celebration and sharing of the greatness of Juneteenth. This recognition is long overdue. However, I can’t help but think the reason for this recognition and celebration of Juneteenth is because in 8:46 the world saw the murder of George Floyd in South Minneapolis. I am sure last year’s Juneteenth celebration was not as inclusive as today. In addition to all of these acts of genuine kindness, I ask that those who have exhibited these acts seek to add some #equityactions to this list. I am sure you have your own actions, but I offer these as alternatives.

Corporations should publicly report your disaggregated racial data for all people who work for your organizations. This means letting the world know how many people from different races are in positions of leadership in your company. Do not lump this data together in a category called people of color. Be transparent.

Corporations should make a commitment to increase the number of Black C-Suite executives by 25%, the number of Black board members by 25%, the number of a Black senior leaders by 25% and the number of a Black interns by 25%.

Corporations should make Juneteenth an every year paid holiday. During this holiday, corporations should match all employee donations on Juneteenth, dollar for dollar, in order to fund virtual public school educational events and other events that showcase the history of Juneteenth.

Corporations should invest the time of their government relations people to lobby for the inclusion of a culturally designed Black history curriculum for all public school students.

Corporations should invest the time of their government relations people to lobby for true police reform and accountability. Silence is not an option.

Corporations should adopt a succession plan program that invests in a Black leadership pipeline that prepares Black employees for future director, senior leadership and C-Suite positions.

CEOs should retain equity coaches for all senior level executives. Coaches will provide leaders with guidance on making decisions with an equitable lens. Coaches will also work with CEOs to hold other executive leaders accountable for equity actions or inactions.

Corporations should increase their overall spend with Black owned businesses by 25%.

Corporations should increase their spend with Black media by 25% and increase authentic partnerships with Black owned media.

Corporations should allocate 3% or their net revenue to invest in Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ businesses. All of these businesses have experienced disproportionate negative impacts from racism, discrimination, CoVid19 and lack of authentic investment. This investment must be geared towards building infrastructure and capacity.

White people should make some new Black friends. It is one thing to attend a Black Lives Matter march, have Black guests on a panel your company is hosting, befriend Black processionals on Linked In or Facebook and work with Black people. It is another thing to have a friend you can share ideas, thoughts, concerns, solutions and heartfelt love for. When no Black people are in the room making decisions or in your friend circle, your decisions are made through a limited lens and have limited reach. These decisions can also negatively impact the people you are trying to assist.

White people should identify this issue or concern as a Black issue and not a people of color issue. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom (so called freedom) for Black slaves in Galveston, Texas who received notice of their freedom in 1865. Slaves that were stolen from their land in 1619, enslaved for over 200 years and lied to about their supposed freedom. This is American History about Black people. Any solutions or suggestion for investment related to Juneteenth and the murder of George Floyd, should be for Black People. The unintentional benefit of focusing on Black people for the first time in a long time may eventually benefit all races and if not, it will still benefit a race of people that has been intentionally oppressed in America for over 400 years. Let’s all be ok with that as well.

Now that Junteenth weekend is coming to a close, let’s not let it end with a mere “Happy Juneteenth” or a discount on movies, music and all things Black. Let it be the genesis of how we will intentionally change our actions through investment, hiring, promotion, social justice and racial equity. Next year you might forget to wish me “Happy Juneteenth” or even forget to increase the Black movies on my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. You might even forget to give me the day off on Juneteenth, but never forget to treat me with humanity, dignity, respect and equity. My history is American history and my being and well being should mean much more to you than a greeting of “Happy Juneteenth.”

Happy Junteenth!

JB

So Exhausting Being Black in America – Racism 1619 Virus

On October 8, 1967 in Detroit, Michigan, I came into this world Black in America. I did not come into the world as a Black American. I was born Black in America. I was not born in the midst of a pandemic. Instead, I was born into an America built on the foundation of the Racism 1619 virus. This virus is similar to Aids and CoVid19 because there is no vaccine or cure, but it is much more deadly than both. Racism 1619 shows no symptoms or consistent patterns of onset. In fact, some think it is hereditary and every white American is born with it. The diagnosis is that the virus is embedded in the DNA of America and cannot be treated. Research and the infectious pattern of Racism 1619 shows that the most effective treatment for the virus is that the patient must die before Racism 1619 can be eliminated. America as we know it must die before it can save itself from Racism 1619. I am not a Black American. I am Black in America and America is not dead yet so Racism 1619 lives.

Growing up in America as a Black Man, I have seen America die a slow death due to the effects of Racism 1619. The virus has festered through the years and has had a devastating impact on all communities of color. The virus however has more intensively impacted the Black Community. It has infected the education, economic, health, employment and social justice arteries of the Black Community. The virus has shut off the circulation of hope, positive outcomes and success for these vital functions. Racism 1619 is a public health pandemic for Black people in America.

The virus has a tremendous negative impact on vision. Racism 1619 causes you to see things that don’t exist and ignore images that are clear and distinct for everyone else. For example, the virus can have you look at an image of a white officer of the law putting a knee into the neck of a restrained and pinned down Black Man for several minutes and believe that the image you are seeing is not murder. The virus also blurs the vision and does not allow you to see images of other officers that may be present during the time of this event. The virus affects the vision and also causes temporary delusions that has you ask questions like, “Was he resisting,” “Why didn’t he just get in the car,” and “Why did he attempt to commit forgery.” These delusional questions continue to blur your vision while also affecting your mind.

The Racism 1619 virus also causes severe memory loss. It most significantly eliminates the memory of deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police. It completely eliminates from memory the names of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille and Breona Taylor. The virus prevents you from recalling the names or circumstances of these individual situations and makes you completely forget that most times officers were not charged nor convicted of any crimes despite these deaths and their unnecessarily short lifetimes. The memory loss also causes a complete and utter shock to the viewing of protest marches that turn violent or disruptive. This shock causes Racism 1619 virus carriers to blame protestors for their behavior as opposed to looking at the root cause of police violence and the death and destruction of Black bodies.

Racism 1619 also causes unattended side effects. These effects/statements include, but are not limited to:

Trust the System

Violence is not how you protest Injustice

I understand your pain as a Black Man

How should I help as a White Person

I’m shocked Racism still exists

These side effects/statements reveal themselves as excited utterances and sometimes are used to try and deflect the impact of the virus. They show up as distractions, misguided and ill informed conclusions, media misrepresentations and ignorance. The side effects/statements are sometimes used to disprove the existence of the virus and get others comfortable with the lack of understanding or believe in Racism 1619.

George Floyd did not cause Racism 1619, but he died because of it. He died because it is in the DNA of America. His murder by the Minneapolis Police Department is simply a reminder that he was born Black in America. Racism 1619 is America. Racism 1619 built America. Racism 1619 drives America. Racism 1619 causes lack of criminal charges against officers who murder Black people and those who watch while others murder Black people. Racism 1619 causes lack of criminal convictions of officers that have killed innocent people. Racism 1619 does not promote policy change or authentic community and police reform. Racism 1619 dies only as America dies. I was born Black in America, maybe one day I will be American when America dies.

JB

Black Men Want to Live!

“How Black Men Try to Appear Non-Threatening as a Defense Mechanism.”

I posted a NPR article JUST yesterday with this title. I woke up this morning and saw on video a Black man handcuffed face down on the ground with a knee firmly in the back of his neck being detained by Minneapolis Police Department Officers. The man said, “I can’t breath, Can you let me up, I want my momma, Help Me.” Despite these non-threatening requests, the officer’s knee remained firmly on his neck and despite the plea of onlookers to help him, no fellow officers helped this man either.

Five minutes later the man’s body went limp and he was not moving. The officer’s knee remained on his neck and no one gave the man CPR or checked on his health. He was dead. He was not armed. He was not physically violent. The call to investigate him was not a call to address an assault, but instead it was to look into a possible forgery. This man is dead for no reason.

This man tried to be non-threatening while he was handcuffed and face down on the ground. He tried to be non-threatening and breath so he could live. He tried to say “help me” as a defense mechanism to save his life. None of this worked. Instead, this Black Man is dead.

The officer’s behavior of inflecting harm and death and the other officer standing guard so others could not assist the man is unacceptable. The officers must be held accountable by losing their jobs and also held accountable in a court of law. The police department must be held accountable for the actions of their officers and the city and its leaders must be held accountable as well. The state must be held accountable and policies, training and police oversight must change at the state level.

This happened in Minneapolis. This happened in Minnesota. This happened blocks from where I work. This happened to a Black Man. This continues to happen to Black Men. This must stop. There is no defense mechanism to Racism or Murder. No defense at all.

JB

CoVid19 and Racial Inequities – The Road to Equity Actions

Similar to many parts of the United States, CoVid19 is having a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino families in Minnesota. The percentage of positive cases for these populations is larger than the percentage population of these groups in the state. Minnesota is 6% Black and 5% Latino, yet has 17% and 14% of the confirmed CoVid19. In addition, only 19% of Long Term Healthcare workers in Minnesota are Black, yet they make up 43% of the positive confirmed cases of this group. Many are immigrants. Racial disparities in health outcomes and CoVid19 atealso exposing the root cause of these outcomes. Racial inequities in employment, education, housing, food security and wealth building are being further exacerbated by the impact of CoVid19.

Now that we know what we suspected (disproportionate impact of CoVid19 on communities of color and Native Americans), what are we going to do about it? Here are a few questions we should ask as we address racial inequities after the impact of CoVid19.

  1. Are we going to have special re-opening processes for businesses serving communities of color and Native American communities in order to protect their health because of the grave impact the virus is causing in these communities?
  2. Are we going to pay for and distribute more free masks and hand sanitizer to communities of color and Native American communities? Are we going to employ seamstresses of color and Native Americans to produce these masks in order to stimulate the economy in these communities.
  3. Are we going to pass legislation that not only invest more money in places to house death caused by CoVid19, but also more money to END RACIAL HEALTH DISPARITIES?
  4. Are we going to invest in more affordable housing for multiple family members so when we have shelter in place orders, the place is not filled with more than 8-10 people. Those number of family members in a household and limited housing makes physical distancing nearly impossible. Are we going to invest in reducing overcrowded homeless shelters that disproportionately impact communities of color and Native Americans?
  5. Are we going to reimagine and reinvest in distance learning so that when we ask young people to participate in their education from home, access barriers to technology and racially inequitable education solutions won’t get in the way?
  6. Are we going to invest in the social determinants of health and also AUTHENTICALLY address disproportionate unemployment rates for communities of color and Native Americans that are the result of the pandemic? Are we going to RECRUIT AND RETAIN FOR DIVERSITY in hiring for the public and private sector? Are we going to measure and report our successes or failures in this area?
  7. Are we going to target testing for CoVid19 in communities of color and Native American communities? When we get more tests are we going to focus on communities and Native American communities where people are disproportionately impacted? Are we going to make sure the testing and follow up are done in a culturally proficient and equitable manner and in partnership with community health clinics? Are we going to report disaggregated racial testing results?
  8. Are we going to invest in small businesses of color and Native American businesses to make sure that they return and are successful after the financial impact of COVID19? Are we going to AUTHENTICALLY establish supplier diversity strategies in the public and private sector in order to consistently and continually purchase from these businesses?
  9. Are we going to invest in language interpreters for patients and families and culturally proficient and religiously diverse ministers to meet the needs of our immigrant patients and families?
  10. Are we going to invest in LGBTQ counselors, teachers and workers who can help us meet the needs of LGBTQ students, patients and families? Working from home for students that do not have a safe home or students who are not accepted or received for who they are at home is not acceptable.

These are a few of the equity questions and #equityactions that need to be taken. We know the data and we know the story. We now need to do the work and develop and implement the solutions.

JB

#equityactions

The Equity Lens

The Equity Lens is a popular term in the field of equity, diversity and inclusion. The Equity Lens is not available in stores. The Equity Lens is not something you can actually touch and feel. The Equity Lens does not come with instructions or a score sheet to assess whether you are using it correctly. The Equity Lens is behavior change, culture change, equity actions, and systems change. The Equity Lens is vital as the world responds to CoVid19 and the impact it has had and will continue to have on communities of color.

The world must apply an equity lens to solve equity disparities exacerbated by CoVid19. These disparities were not caused by this virus. Instead, CoVid19 exacerbated the disparities and intensified their negative impact. Some of these disparities include, but are not limited to: health, education, economic development, employment and housing. This article lists a few suggested factors to consider when authentically applying an equity lens (solutions) to these issues related to the impact of CoVid19. These disparities must be addressed immediately and intentionally. Although this list is not perfect, I suggest these factors be used as a starting point towards equity action that in turn will lead towards positive outcomes for communities of color as we deal with the impact of CoVid19.

1. Define Equity and Demonstrate How to Apply an Equity Lens

Equity is giving people what they need to be successful. Health Equity adds to that equation by extending the need to produce healthy communities and positive health outcomes that are not predetermined by race. Equity requires treating people and groups DIFFERENTLY based upon their circumstances, situations or outcomes. Equity gives groups different amounts of time, monetary investments and resources based upon their needs. Equity is not treating people, problems or solutions EQUALLY. Racial equity can only be achieved by addressing racial inequities independently. Structural and Systemic racism must be addressed for different communities and identity specifically tailored solutions. These solutions can uniquely work for each community of color and addresses inequities in these communities through targeted and specifically tailored solutions. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

To make the point that equity is not equal let’s look at the impact of CoVid19. CoVid19 has caused a high number or deaths in Black communities throughout the United States. The number of deaths is disproportionate to the Black population in those states and also disproportionate to deaths in other communities of color. These deaths are directly caused by structural racism and bias. Racism and Bias in healthcare has led to poor health outcomes in the Black community. Any equitable solutions to address these issues must invest resources in the Black community to address these specific health causes and outcomes. A non-equitable (equality) solution to these issues is to equally invest resources in all communities of color and posit that we need to help everyone. An equitable solution is realizing that the Black community will need something different from other communities to address specific disparities and that application of an equity lens and solutions will not be the same as in other communities. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

2. Identify the Racial Impact of CoVid19 on all Communities of Color.

CoVid19 is impacting racial/ethnic communities differently. Racial impact and outcomes within each community must be analyzed before equity solutions can be implemented. In order to design, develop and implement solutions to CoVid19 and its impact on communities of color, the impact must be specifically addressed for each community. Communities of color cannot be treated as one. Racially Disaggregated Data in health, education, employment, economic development, housing, discrimination and other areas must be analyzed and solutions must be jointly created and implemented with members of the impacted communities. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

3. Identify Racial Outcomes of CoVid19 Solutions for the Black Community

CoVid19 solutions in the Black community must be designed for positive health outcomes and eliminating health inequities for Black people. Asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions are disproportionately affecting the Black community. This has led to a higher death rate for Black people diagnosed with CoVid19 in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans and New York City. Structural and Systemic Racism has led to or caused poverty, redlining, racial covenants, housing restrictions, gentrification, food deserts and healthcare disparities in the Black community. Improving health equity outcomes to address structural racism and its impact on racial health disparities will lead to positive health outcomes in the Black Community. Investment must be made in eliminating structural racism which is at the root cause of the problems that have led to unequal health outcomes. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

Helpful Hint: Focusing on the Black community’s needs is not ignoring other communities of color, instead it is giving attention in an equitable manner to that community and realizing that other communities are being impacted differently. Immigrant communities for example are being impacted differently, different equity actions may be required. Equity solutions require equity actions that boldly, directly and unapologetically address the needs of a community. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

4. Racial Identification and Negative Association of CoVid19 with the Asian Community will not be tolerated.

Bias and Discrimination against the Asian Community cannot be addressed through silence. Equity solutions to CoVid19 require partnership with the Asian community to explicitly identify and address explicit bias and discrimination. This requires consistent actions that challenge mischaracterization of the virus as an Asian or Chinese virus and also hold people and systems accountable that engage in such inappropriate characterizations. Bold and direct support of the Asian community is imperative. Martin Luther King said it best, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” We cannot let the Asian community stand alone during this time of ignorance, bias and discrimination. We must say and do something. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

5. Intentional Recruitment of Employees of Color must be a priority.

The negative financial impact of CoVid19 and the current economic shutdown and downturn has led to furloughs, layoffs and reductions in force. These actions will undoubtedly negatively impact communities of color at a higher rate than the white community. Communities of color will experience higher levels of unemployment and layoffs. True equity actions is investing in these impacted communities of color and reducing the impact on these communities from furloughs or layoffs. The easy way out is to apply a traditional lens that will lead to supposed equal treatment, but unequal outcomes. If true equity is to be applied, action to protect the most underserved and marginalized communities must be a priority. Increasing efforts to recruit and hire employees of color is imperative. Companies must interview candidates of color for opportunities and create a pipeline for employees of color to work. Regardless of the current status, hiring pauses or hiring freezes one day will be lifted and companies must position themselves to still be in position to hire diverse talent. Intentional recruitment of candidates of color must be a top priority. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

6. Intentional Retention of Employees of Color must be a priority.

The saying is last hired, first fired or laid off. To often communities of color experience disproportionate impact when layoffs or furloughs occur. Many times companies do not use an equity lens when it comes to significant employment changes. Instead, they rely upon traditional factors such as seniority and performance (typically applied unevenly) to make lay-off and furlough decisions. While these are not bad factors, additional factors such as: 1) retention of employees of color to reflect communities served, 2) creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for a diverse group of employees and 3) creating an environment to promote diversity of thought and creative solutions, just to name a few, should be considered. Also, acknowledging biases and doing something about how biases impact tough decisions like who to lay off must also be addressed. These biases must not be allowed to negatively impact equity and diversity outcomes. Managers tend to retain people who are like them, people they went to the same school with, and people they spend personal time with. Sometimes those people retained are also people of the same race as them and not people of color. In order to maintain a strong equity, diversity and inclusion priority, retention of people of color must be an intentional focus. Any new workforce demographic after layoffs or furloughs should still reflect and maintain a diverse workforce. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

7. Intentional Investment in Businesses of Color must be a priority.

For the last month, businesses have been shut down. From Fortune 500s to Mom and Pop shops, limited sales are happening in the nation’s economy. The shut down is having a grave impact on the economy, especially in communities of color. Most of the businesses owned by communities of color are small businesses. They are successful in their own right, but they for the most part cannot handle long periods without revenue. These business also employ the most diverse workforce and contribute heavily to the growth and development of communities of color. With a prolonged business shutdown, these businesses are in the greatest jeopardy of going out of business for good.

Now is not the time to ignore supplier diversity strategies that intentionally invest in small people of color owned businesses. Instead, companies and individual consumers must double and triple down on their investments so that these businesses will survive and thrive again one day. Do not allow these restaurants, consulting companies, construction companies, law firms, musicians, visual artists, beauty and hair salons and others to close their doors for good. We must be even more intentional and diligent in using stimulus/bailout dollars given to large companies and individuals to invest in the supply chain for businesses of color. The application of equity actions is key to their survival. EQUITY is not EQUAL!

Helpful Hint: Non-profits that are led by and serve people of color must continue to be supported through donations and sponsorships for events and operations.

8. Conclusion and Call to Action

Many companies have signed off on pledges to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive. Many have equity, diversity and inclusion statements and committees. Many have hired Chief Diversity, Equity or Inclusion Officers. A few companies have even committed to building equity, diversity and inclusion principles into future business strategies for their respective companies. These strategies even have accompanying metrics and financial investment. These are all good things.

However, the best thing at this time is to demonstrate EQUITY ACTIONS in response to CoVid19 and the subsequent aftermath of its impact. Now is not the time to be silent. Now is not the time to ignore discrimination against the Asian community. Now is not the time to disinvest in equity, diversity and inclusion. Now is not the time to ignore equity, diversity and inclusion principles during layoffs and furloughs. Now is not the time to stop sponsoring and investing in non-profit and for-profit businesses led my people of color, serving people of color and employing people of color. Now is not the time to ignore equity, diversity and inclusion in the recruiting, hiring and retention processes.

Now is the time to show people where you stand in a time of crisis or controversy and do it with an EQUITY LENS and not an EQUAL LENS.

JB

God Gave Me an Angel!

God Gave Me an Angel!

If you know me, you know I love her. She is cute (looks like me), silly, hates to lose, a warrior and makes the room light up when she is there. She also seems like she has been here before. She is an Angel from Heaven.

This week has been rough. My Hometown City (the D, Motown, the Motor City, the land of What Up Doe!) is suffering. The D is leading the nation in Coronavirus case growth and also per capita deaths. Last week a young man I did not know, Marlowe Stoudamire, succumbed to the virus. He was a man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and a graduate of Cass Tech High School. He was also a father and a champion for the people and the community. He reminded me of a younger version of me. This week we lost Joseph Coleman Jr. He was a high school classmate and football teammate. He was a good dude who would on occasion check on me and my Angel via social media. I do not know the circumstances of his death, but nevertheless his death makes me sad. It was a tough week.

My daughter Teresa did not know Marlowe or Joe and she is not aware of what is going on in the D. She had dinner with me, her mom and her grandpa this week and she was excited. She felt good. When we got back to my house, I allowed her to stay up until 10:00 (30 more minutes) and she decided to draw. She loves to draw. She asked me for some tape and went to her room to draw. She drew, and she drew and she drew some more. She finally called me to come to my bedroom door where she presented her art work.

Teresa said, “Daddy this first picture I made to show I Love You. The second picture I made because you are the Best Dad Ever! The third picture I made is a poem and I wrote out the words. Do you want me to read it to you?” “It says an Angel from above is singing a song just for you and that song says your little girl will always be there for you. I love you Dad!” “The next picture says Love U and the next one I wrote Daddy says Be Your-Self. It is important to Be Your-Self daddy.” After the artistic presentation, of course she ended by giving dad a big hug and kiss.

My Angel did not know my frat brother or friend that I lost. She does not know the pain and hurt going on in Daddy’s Hometown where Nana (her grandmother) lives. I know that she is an Angel created by God and she delivers messages that are right on time in order to get me and others through. Teresa is one of many angels God has created. I ask that you tell someone about your Angel and what they are doing for you. We know the bad things that are happening in our world. We are posting stories about challenging events and how we need to respond better to those events. I ask that in addition to sharing about those events, please share a story about those Angels who are making it better for you and others.

Tell Someone About Your Angel Today! I Love My Angel.

JB