Racism in Healthcare is Inhumane – Let’s Fix It!

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday Dr. King. We thank you for all you have done to fight injustices in the world. When we celebrate your birthday, we often search for quotes of love, hope and inspiration from you. We often seek your words to bring people together in order to fight for justice and end racism. Today, I am not searching for those loving or hopeful words. Today, I want to reflect on the words, the system and the reality that began to kill you before your assassination. This is the silent killer of racism.

Dr. King, you were assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. You were murdered because of the violence caused by racism. Your autopsy established that you died from gunshot wounds caused by an assassin’s bullets. Your autopsy also revealed something we don’t often talk about. You were 39 years old when you were murdered. However, the autopsy of your heart revealed that you had the heart of a 60 year old. Stress had taken a major toll on your heart. Stress always has a cause and in your case it was clear that that racism was the cause of your stress.

Here are a few of the things you endured, Dr. King, before your death:

House bombing by white supremacists;

Assassination attempts;

Momma King slain by a bullet;

You were spit on by people because you were Black;

You were cursed at by people because you were Black; and

You were jailed by people because you were Black;

You see, Dr. King, you died from a bullet, but you were slowly being killed by racism. Your heart autopsy demonstrated this. The ironic thing about the silent killer of racism is that when you went to the hospital to get treatment, the healthcare system added to the racism and inhumanity and made it worse for you. The silent killer got a boost from healthcare.

Dr. King, you received inadequate and racist healthcare because you were Black. In 2021, this systemic racism has not changed and we have to do better.

MLK 2021 Vision

Injustice, inhumanity and racism in healthcare continues to cause racial inequalities. In order to realize the vision of social justice, I am sure you want us to address racism in medicine. In 2021, rather than offer a MLK quote on hope, we in healthcare will commit to your vision and be measured by our actions when MLK Day 2022 rolls around. This is what we are willing to do in the next year:

1. Treat Black and Brown patients and families with respect and dignity and when that does not happen we will hold people accountable for their disrespectful actions and take affirmative steps to dismantle and replace the system that consistently produces a lack of respect and dignity for these families;

2. Retain and treat fairly Black and Brown employees and also provide these employees with equitable opportunities to achieve success in the workplace.

3. Recruit and retain more Black and Brown medical assistants, nurses, doctors and medical staff to treat patients and families.

4. Partner with Black and Brown organizations to co-develop and co-design health equity solutions for Black and Brown patients and families. We will also invest in Black and Brown businesses within the community in order to create positive economic impact in the community and for the people we serve.

5. Measure health disparities and more importantly implement solutions to change the disparities and provide equitable care. Measurement without corrective action is inhumane and unjust and we will not engage in that behavior.

Dr. King, I know you are looking for something different in 2021. I know you want to see our actions match our words. In healthcare, housing, employment, economic development and community partnerships we will make a measurable difference by the time we say Happy Birthday in 2022. We are committed to being the change we seek in this country. We are also committed to holding each other accountable. This is our birthday present for you Dr. King. Happy Birthday Dr. King.

JB

#FadetoBlack

You can’t change what you refuse to confront – Calling out white supremacy

The events of Wednesday, January 6, 2020 will forever be embedded in the history of America. We will never forget where we were, what we felt and what we saw and heard. The events of January 6 are indelibly embedded in in our minds, body and soul. As a result, there will be mental, physical and spiritual impact on our souls as we address the impact of this day. If we are to change the impact of this devastating day, it can only happen if we honestly confront the things we say we want to change. We must face white supremacy.

Reverend Elijah McDavid is the Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a recent sermon, he spoke these prophetic words. He said, “you can’t change what you refuse to tell the truth about.” In part, his sermon spoke about how in order to address the impact of the racial violence, bigotry, terrorism and evilness of the events on Wednesday, January 6, America must be honest about who we are. In the words of Pastor McDavid, self realization and truth must happen in order for change to occur. Thank you Pastor McDavid for your inspiration.

A Change Gon’ Come

America is a country founded on racial violence. Taking of land from Native Americans, slavery of Africans brought forcibly to America, rapes, lynchings, murders, anti-semitism and sexism are the foundations of what we call America. I will spare you the details of the tragic history of this nation, however I encourage you to review other posts in my blog and also review the history of America so you can learn more. Before we assume we can change this country and end white supremacy, white privilege and racial violence, we must acknowledge this is who we are. America is built on the foundation of white supremacy and in order to dismantle it, we must acknowledge it.

We are who we thought we are

Dennis Green is a former football coach in the National Football League. He was one of the first Black head coaches in the NFL and was very successful during stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland/LA/Las Vegas Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings. During one of his games, where he suffered a tough loss, coach Green was asked at a press conference about the other team, his response to the question was, “they are who we thought they were.” He then banged the podium and left the room. Coach Green’s simple statement was clear. The team they faced was the team they believed they were going to face. It was not a fantasy team. It was not a team they were unfamiliar with. It was a team they should have been prepared to face. White supremacy is a team we should know and be prepared to face.

The insurgence, domestic terrorism and violence that occurred on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 is who we thought we were as a nation. For the last several years, there have been many signs, play calls and coaching strategies that clearly show that America is Team white Supremacy. It is not popular to say, but if you live in America, you play on Team white Supremacy. Sometimes you are in the starting lineup, sometimes you are a substitute, sometimes you are blocking, tackling and even catching the white supremacy ball. The point is that although you may not consider yourself apart of the kickoff team that invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021, you are still on the team and you have benefited from that team and what they delivered on that day. Being on the team means that you are accountable for the actions of all of your team members. You cannot say that “I would never do such a thing” like my teammates. You and your team are who we think you are. Systemic racism is built on the foundation of white supremacy. If you are not a person of color or Native American you play on Team white supremacy.

Confront your team strengths and weaknesses

If you are on Team white Supremacy you must do an analysis of where you are strong and where you are weak. What plays have worked for years and have led to consistent scoring for your team. For example, if you have consistently been able to run a play called blue lives matter until they don’t, you have to take advantage of that play. This play is simple. It means police and law enforcement are valued and supported until they disagree with me. If disagreement happens, we then run a reverse and let them know they (police) don’t matter as much and that violence against police is permitted. This play is sometimes disguised as white privilege, because if you are on team white supremacy and you run it, it always seems to turn out well. You always score on this play and there is no interference from politics, police, the justice system or community. This play does not work as well for teams that play on Team Black Lives Matter. Only team white privilege can benefit from this play call.

Calling an audible

If we change the play of white supremacy, we must first acknowledge that it exists. One of my favorite movies is The Devil’s Advocate. The movie features Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. The movie describes the relationship with a law firm partner (Pacino) and his associate protege (Reeves). Pacino mentors Reeves by testing his character and integrity. Pacino offers him money, fame, and adoration if he is willing to sell his soul to the devil and give up his wife, family (mother) and friends. If he gives them up, he can have it all. Reeves can give up who he is and gain eternal life.

Similar to the devil in the Devil’s Advocate, white supremacy shows up in a very deceiving manner. It does not always show up with obvious red horns and confederate flags. It does not always show up with pitch forks and nooses. It does not always show up with a long red tail or pipe bombs and zip ties. Sometimes the devil shows up like Pacino. A corporate executive, a public servant, an educator, or a CEO. The devil shows up in disguise and you would never guess he meant to harm you. White supremacy not only shows up in disguise, just like the devil, it is protected from harm. Remember the devil was an angel that fell from Heaven and received permission from God to tempt the flock including God’s only son, Jesus. The devil was not restrained or limited in his actions and in fact his actions through acts of deceit looked similar to miracles of God. I guess we should not be surprised when acts of white supremacy look normal and remind us of the the status quo. White supremacy can resemble domestic terrorism and having no restrictions on movement even when you have weapons and commit acts of violence. White supremacy can resemble ignoring the rules and consequences of a fair election and not being held accountable for misleading others. White supremacy can resemble, no consequences, no accountability and the ability to do whatever, whenever and however you want to. Team white supremacy and team white privilege go hand in hand.

Say it’s name

If we are to change and call an audible to white supremacy, we must acknowledge that the the devil (white supremacy) exists and that before we can change it, we must admit that it benefits everyone, who is not a person of color or Native American. We must confront white supremacy and be willing to kill/change it by any means necessary.

JB

#FadetoBlack

Strictly Business!

In 1988, the rap group EPMD (Eric and Parrish Making Dollars) released the album Strictly Business. Strictly Business was EPMD’s best selling album. As I reflect on my formal education and what it has taught me, I often remember how hip hop lyrics also taught me a lot and helped my social and professional growth. A verse I learned much from Strictly Business was spit (lyrics performed) by Parrish, and it goes a little something like this.


“And all due respect, when I say mic check
Let a sucker slide once — then I break his neck;
So when I say jump, you reply, “How high?”
Because I’m takin’ no prisoners, so don’t play hero and die;
You’re just a soldier.. and I’m a Green Beret
I do not think twice about the MC’s I slay;
So if you want to battle, I highly recommend this:
Bring your dog, mom, and dad.. because I’m Strictly Business!”

Parrish, EPMD, Strictly Business

During the summer of 1988, I was a rising senior at Morehouse College. That particular summer, like all summers in college, I returned home to Detroit and worked at Chrysler Corporation. Unlike some of my friends that had office internships in marketing, finance or law, my summer job was in the stamping plant. The stamping plant helped prepare quarter panels for building Dodge Ram trucks. My shift was from 12:00 am – 8:00 am and we worked 7 days a week. The money was good, but it was a hard and long summer. By the time everyone is heading to the party, I had to get ready to go to work. When everyone got up to start their day, I was sleeping. I made a lot of money with overtime that summer, but did not have much of a social life. The lack of social interaction gave me time to think and dissect rap lyrics like Strictly Business. :).

The beat and chorus to Strictly Business is set to the song “I Shot the Sheriff “ by Bob Marley. The beat is melodic and makes you want to bounce. In addition to bouncing, the song made me think about working at the stamping plant that summer and realizing that it was not the life for me. A stamping plant is hot, the machines are large and dangerous, and the line never stops. You are moving heavy steel which is sharp to the touch. I have a cut on my arm to this day to prove it. The protective gear was not very protective and the late hours/early mornings made this one of the most dangerous jobs I have ever had. I never wanted to go back to work at the stamping plan after graduation. This job made me want to stay in school and graduate in order to get a “good job” as some of my fellow co-workers would say. They said stay in school and do not make this a career. They were good men and women and gave me great advice for the future. They also said use your mind and focus on business. I listened and became a college and law school graduate. I focused on my business, my strictly business.

Listening to Parrish’s verse on Strictly Business taught me a few lessons about business and how I could use those lessons to assist me and uplift others. Parrish taught me how to handle my business. Here are some of those lessons learned:

1. Be respectful, be prepared and don’t miss an opportunity.

“And all due respect, when I say mic check
Let a sucker slide once — then I break his neck”

When you are ready to solicit business, gain clients, or promote yourself, you must always present yourself with integrity, confidence and honesty. This will demonstrate respect for your work and the clients you seek You must also double check your preparation and make sure you are more than ready. Always do a “mic check” to make sure all of your ideas, promises and solutions will work. Make sure your “mic sounds nice” and that you can be heard clearly. Lastly, make sure that you never miss an opportunity or let someone overlook you. Let no opportunity slide by. Always shoot your best shot and don’t let others out work you.

2. When you are up against a trouble meet it squarely face to face.

“So when I say jump, you reply, “How high?”
Because I’m takin’ no prisoners, so don’t play hero and die”

When you are faced with a daunting business opportunity that stretches you to your limit or makes you question your ability to get the work done, don’t give up. Instead, step back and give yourself a running start to jump over that hurdle. Mediate on how high you need to jump and prepare for positive results. Never doubt your skills, talents and abilities, just jump. Make sure your jump is planned, you have practiced in your mind and that you have reckless abandon to make your jump successful. You will not be a hero, but you will instead give it your all and have a plan to address barriers and not fail. Failure might occur, but poor planning and preparation assure it.

3. I am the best! I will bring my best work! No one will outwork me! I am the master or my fate and the captain of my soul.

“You’re just a soldier.. and I’m a Green Beret
I do not think twice about the MC’s I slay”

You are the expert of your work. You know more than anyone else about what you want to accomplish. You are not an average soldier or common person. You have trained and prepared your mind, body and soul for this moment. You are the Green Beret. You are the highly skilled assassin that will seek out and capture all the business that is for you. When you win a contract, don’t apologize for it. Do not undervalue your worth by undercharging. Do not feel bad for anyone, but instead show humility and at the same time exhibit pride and confidence in your work. Master your craft, feed your soul and be the best.

4. Bring your “A” Game

“So if you want to battle, I highly recommend this: Bring your dog, mom, and dad.. because I’m Strictly Business”

The first opportunity is the last opportunity and the last opportunity is the best opportunity to do your best. When you are set up for success, never be mediocre. If you are recommended for a contract, a job, a board position or a meeting with the CEO, bring it all so you can leave an amazing impression. That meeting or opportunity is not only for you. The opportunity is for all those who poured into you. Your parents, your teachers, your mentors, your sponsors, your detractors, your prayer Warriors, your admirers and your haters. When you seize that opportunity these folks help you bring your best. Use all that you have to get all you deserve and when you get it, do it well. Most importantly and above all, give the next opportunity to someone else so they can bring it too.

“Cause when I am in action, there is no time for maxin’ or relaxin’ — just reactin’ and subtracting.”

Make your next opportunity Strictly Business!

JB

#equityactions

Revelations 2020

The history of a people is their humanity. History makes everyone human. If you take away the history of a people, you take away their humanity. You take away their humanness. When you take away their humanness and humanity, you take away any kindness, caring, love, compassion and feeling for those people. When you eliminate or erase a people’s history, you eliminate their humanity and treat them as though they are not human.

Mahmoud El Kati

As we begin the New Year of 2021, I want you to ask yourself what has been revealed to you in 2020? Have revelations unveiled the history and humanity of Black People. If not, what will you do in 2021 to make that happen.

Alvin Ailey created the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in 1958. The theater has spawned several decades and has brought the world an amazing composition of ballet/dance using African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues. One of Ailey’s greatest compositions is Revelations and in this piece he “explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul of Black people.” In Revelations, Ailey shares the history of Black people. He tells my story and makes us human. https://www.alvinailey.org/performances/repertory/revelations.

Ailey does not spend time in Revelations telling the story of what it means to be Black. Instead, he reveals the dance, the music and the love of a people through song, dance and ministry. He reveals the humanity of my people and blesses us with the beauty of our spirit, love and kinship. Imagine if Ailey never created this work or if no one ever saw it. No one would know the brilliance of Black people and no one would believe in their humanity.

Booker T. Washington and WEB Dubois are brilliant and eloquent pillars in American history. Imagine if no one revealed their brilliance or limited their history to just Black history. What if their ideas were never a part of history. Imagine if the words and works of Carter G. Woodson, Ida B. Wells, Roy Wilkins, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, the Harlem Renaissance, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker and others were never revealed, or better yet revealed as only a monolithic list of works that are of limited use. If this history was eliminated or suppressed there would be no history of a people and their humanity would be ignored.

Further imagine if the history or excellence of Black people was not only suppressed or ignored, but the African history of excellence that existed before 1619 was eliminated or ignored. Imagine if the only mention of the Continent of Africa (not a country) was as a source for slavery and ignored the political, economic and ecosystems of a nation. Imagine if the history and excellence of royal kings and queens was ignored or better yet viewed as a minuscule portion of world history. If all of these things happened, which they did, the history of a people would be eliminated and their humanity would not exist. These people would not be human in the eyes of the world.

The world wants to continue to problem solve for racial equity after the murder of George Floyd. Corporate America plans to implement social justice strategies, eliminate systemic racism, provide anti racism training, fund Black businesses, increase the number of Black board members and executive leaders, and much more. I think they want to accomplish all of this before the anniversary of George Floyd’s death – May 25, 2021. These are very ambitious goals and many seem attainable. However, if any changes will sustain a movement and not merely a moment, they must acknowledge and incorporate the history of Black people in the solution that brings forth their humanity. You must know who I am before you can claim to care about who I will become. You cannot be an ally at the table for change without knowing the impact of how your elimination of my history eliminated your respect for my humanity. I have to be viewed and treated as a human being for this change to be a movement.

Racial Equity Change

There have been many coalitions, partnerships, think tanks, courageous conversations, task forces and racial equity work groups formed since the murder of George Floyd. Many of these groups have made statements, developed strategies and promised to do better in 2021. Part of that change has to be grounded in learning history and grounding solutions in the foundation of that history. Here are a few suggestions for making that happen.

1. Allies have lined up to support social change in the Black community. Allies can be armed with money, ideas and strategies, however many are not aligned with the history of Black people. Many allies in Minnesota cannot tell you about some of the people named in this article. They cannot tell you about the philosophies of WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington, they cannot tell you about the importance of the Harlem Renaissance or the economic vibrancy of Black Wall Street in Tulsa. My first suggestion is for allies supporting this work to learn the history of the Black people mentioned in this article and the history and experiences of those you seek to assist. Once you learn that history you can then see the humanity of a people and better partner for success.

2. Black Elders are a great asset to building a foundation for system change. Speaking with noted elders in your particular community and listening to their thoughts and ideas for change is a must. Many companies are hiring outside consultants and experts in anti-racism in order to find a magic bullet for change. These companies are also having people who were responsible for creating the problem of systemic racism solely trying to create the solution or merely relying upon a small group of employees who have been subjected to systemic racism (your ERGs) to solve the problem. In Minnesota, engaging elders like Mahmoud El Kati and Dr. Josie Johnson is a must for learning history, creating humanity and providing sustainable solutions. Companies must listen and learn history.

3. “We must align all of our solutions for Black people.” This is a common phrase used by many companies seeking racial equity solutions. These companies have made statements or have started to design and implement racial equity solutions after the murder of George Floyd. The common theme is to align these solutions and not duplicate efforts. This theme translates to companies saying, “we are not going to fund and partner with multiple organizations in the Black community.” Companies say they need black organizations to “align and work together.” Imagine if we held this truth to be self evident in the American economic system. We would have no need for the NASDQ stock exchange because it is not aligned with the NYSE. We would have no need for Bank of America because US Bank is fulfilling all the banking needs of the world. These banks are not aligned, they are just committed to providing financial solutions. Just as it is not necessary to eliminate a stock exchange system or rival banks, it is just as unnecessary for Black led organizations or Black led economic chambers or business organizations to eliminate one another or “become aligned” as we work towards sustainable long term solutions for the Black community. 400 plus years of racism, systemic oppression, economic destruction and social and political exclusion call for multiple solutions. Some groups may be aligned and some may not. Non alignment is no excuse for not investing in every possible solution for Black economic, social and political advancement. If you know the history of oppression of Black people, you know it is going to take multiple solutions and organizations to create change.

4. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays said it best, “not failure, but low aim is a sin.” History may tell us that we have not done a good job in reducing disparities for Black people, especially in Minnesota. Minnesota continues to have some of the worst disparities between Black and white populations in health, education, employment, economic development housing and social injustices caused by policing. It is plausible to suggest that because these disparities are so large, we must only strive for small incremental gains or decreases in these categories. If history tells us anything, it tells us when expectations are low outcomes will be low and change will never be sustained. No one ever dreamed of the elimination of segregated schools in 1954, no one ever dreamed of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, no one ever dreamed of lawsuits for eliminating discrimination and increasing diversity in higher education. No one dreamed of it, except those who believed and acted towards change. They did not set small goals to pacify others, instead they set ambitious goals that some did not believe they could achieve. They chose goals that could rewrite history and make Black people human. All companies that signed up for change after the murder of George Floyd must set high expectations and goals for success. If companies do not set double digit goals for long term change it is not humane enough for a movement, it is mere lip service for a moment.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road towards elimination of racial inequities is paved with excuses and the acceptance of poor outcomes. If we are to use history to create humanity for Black people, we must make sure all of those who are offering to be allies in this work learn history, and apply solutions consistent with history for proposed future outcomes. The spoken word and the written word of elders and those who have done this work will make it easier to work towards the humanity of Black people and a movement that is much more than a moment in time.

JB

#equityactions

Step Up Your Game (DEI) – We are watching and keeping score

“Noticing that a lot of the Diversity and Inclusion work doesn’t include Diversity!”

Larry McKenzie, Coach

Larry McKenzie is a multi year high school boys state basketball champion coach. He currently coaches at North High School im Minneapolis, Minnesota. Coach McKenzie’s recent post about what is lacking in the profession of diversity and inclusion prompted me to write this article. Rather than respond to Coach’s post with a laundry list of acts arguing that I’m better than that, and that is not how I do this work, I decided to resist the urge to protect my ego. Instead, I reached out and asked Coach and others what can we and I do better in order to get better results.

The profession of Diversity and Inclusion is under fire. Many companies have maintained diversity, equity and inclusion offices for many years, yet there have not been transformative results. In fact, some DEI outcomes are worse now than they were several years ago. In addition, in many instances the composition of DEI departments are not racially or ethnically diverse or equitable. Many of these departments also do not center on, or focus on those they are supposedly trying to help. The profession of DEI is under fire. My profession is under fire. I am under fire. We must do better, so we can all do better.

Part of making DEI better is admitting that we have failed. We must acknowledge shortcomings and missteps and reflect on what needs to be done differently to achieve better results. Another major part of getting better results is listening to those impacted by the work and taking constructive feedback to heart as we dismantle and reconstruct a system in order to provide equity and inclusion solutions. Those that are impacted by diversity and inclusion must be hired and retained to build a new system. They know many of the answers because they have been on the short end of not receiving the promised outcomes from DEI. They know we need to do better. Coach McKenzie and his friends know what we should do and here are some of those ideas:

1. Hire Black and Brown people to lead the DEI work inside of companies;

2. Hire Black and Brown consultants to provide DEI and racial equity training for employees;

3. Recruit Black and Brown Board Members;

4. Hire Black and Brown interns and teach them the DEI profession. Also teach them other careers and provide them guaranteed jobs once they successfully complete their education;

5. Hire more Black and Brown people on executive leadership teams of companies and provide them equitable pay;

6. Create satellite offices in Black and Brown neighborhoods and hire people from the community for jobs in these offices;

7. Set aggressive goals to spend money with Black and Brown businesses; and

8. Measure, measure, measure and hold people accountable for DEI and racial equity results or lack thereof.

I want to thank Coach McKenzie for assisting the DEI players with a modification of the playbook. I appreciate his commentary and suggestions that we must do better in the DEI space. As we continue to transform DEI, racial equity and anti-racism work, we must hold everyone accountable, measure progress, record success and failure and change the playbook if the plays are not working. We must do better, so all of us can do better.

JB

George Floyd 33

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I am a man of faith. I am a man of God. I am a man who believes that God gave his Son, Jesus, so that I as a sinful person can have eternal life in spite of my sins. I have been granted Grace and Mercy because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed his life at the age of 33.

George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. Mr. Floyd’s life was taken from him by four Minneapolis Police Officer. It was not a willing sacrifice, it was a senseless murder of a man who allegedly committed the crime of forgery by passing a $20 bill at a neighborhood store. Because of George Floyd’s death, we have been granted Grace and Mercy and the opportunity to have a new life in spite of our sins. George Floyd sacrificed his life for us. Let me explain.

Over the last few weeks, I have been feeling the pain of being a Black man. I have experienced sadness, fear, pain, sorrow, anger, confusion, Hope, hopelessness, etc. I have wondered why did George Floyd die such a violent death for all the world to see. Why was there such a senseless loss of life when he asked to be saved and asked for his mother to save him while on the hard pavement for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Why did George Floyd have to die in the Twin Cities I have called home for the last 28 years. I do not have an answer to this question, but I know George Floyd’s death/murder was a sacrifice for systemic change in the the world.

George’s life, similar to the son of God, was a sacrifice to save the world. Jesus died on the cross so that all sins would be forgiven and we will have everlasting life. I believe George died on 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis so that all sins would be exposed to the world and we will for the rest of our lives work to expose and end racism. Just like Jesus, George’s death was brutal and violent. It was senseless and cruel. Although he pled for his life to be spared it was not.

Three days after Jesus was killed on the cross, he rose again from the dead so that we would have everlasting life. Although George is not coming back from the dead, he is rejoicing in heaven. On the third day after his death his spirit rose and his memory and soul sparked civil protest not only in Minneapolis but throughout the world. Protests that keep going and invoking changes that will never allow us to be the same again.

We can be resurrected, we can be saved, we can change the world.

#GeorgeFloyd33

JB

*written the week of George Floyd’s death.

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