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!


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.


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.


CoVid19 and Racial Inequities – The Road to Equity Actions (remixed)

This blog was previously posted in mid 2020 and has been slightly remixed. It is even more relevant today. #equityactions.

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. Asians are not disproportionately impacted by infection from Covid19, however the racist characterization of the virus as the China virus or Asian virus has led to violent attacks on this e of Asian descent. The pandemic of racism continues to spread.

Racial disparities in health outcomes and CoVid19 are also 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 and vaccinations for CoVid19 in communities of color and Native American communities? When we get more tests and vaccinations 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 vaccinations 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.



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.


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’s Leadership Tips (Home Edition)

JB’s Leadership Tips (Home Edition)

  1. Every meeting does not need to be Zoom or WebEx meeting with video. We know we all want to stay connected during this work from home time, however, that does not mean we have to see each other EVERY TIME we meet. Stop it. Did we meet face to face every time in the office?
  2. Don’t meet with your employees each and every day. Trust your employees. Check on them socially and ask them is there anything you can do to support them. Do not schedule a check in visual huddle everyday. Your employees are great and that’s why you hired them. They know how to reach you. (I need to practice this one too.)
  3. Silence on a conference call can mean the same things it does in a regular in person team meeting. It could mean that everyone gets it and does not have questions and it could mean that everyone is scared to death about an issue and does not want to be the first to bring something up. Trust your gut and when you think it is the later, make individual calls to follow up and give your team members personal attention.
  4. If the Video Camera is ON! please ACT LIKE the CAMERA IS ON!
  5. Make a Toast to each other and celebrate victories and small wins. For example: We all made it to the call on time. Nobody killed a kid during home schooling and work from home time today. Everybody is safe and healthy. I am not saying your toast has to be with alcohol, but you are at home although you working. Your call. 🙂. How is your leader going to know either way. 🙂

Lead with Care, Compassion and Current Information. Realize that with home school, taking care of elderly parents, working and not being overwhelmed by the current state of the world, we only have so much Capacity. Let your team use their capacity wisely.

Appreciate your team.

We Are All Amazing

“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,”

“It’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally,”

President Barack Obama

What is a Virus?

A virus is a microscopic piece of genetic material surrounded by a coat made of proteins. It enters healthy cells and hijacks them, creating copies of itself. When viruses begin replicating inside a living organism, they can cause an infectious disease. 

Viruses are not generated by race or ethnicity. Viruses are not generated by gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Viruses are not generated by religious beliefs or political affiliation. Viruses are generated by living organisms and can affect all of humanity.

What is Racism?

Racism = Power + Prejudice

Power is political, economic, social, systemic, institutional and influential. Power defines reality for the person or group wielding the power and the reality for those being oppressed by the use of this power.

Prejudice is negative stereotypes directed towards a group of people that are damaging and deny individuality. Prejudicial attitudes typically lead to negative behaviors towards individuals and a particular group of people.

Racism serves the interest of those in power and fosters racial oppression against those experiencing it. Racism leads to internalized and external negative messages that also leads to discrimination, violence, conscious bias and oppression of groups and individuals.

No Time for Silence

Racism is identifying a virus by the name of a country (China) or race of people because the virus impacted those in that country first. Racism is calling women of color nasty if they ask questions about conscious bias and racist behavior. Racism is treating and allowing others to treat those of Asian decent with disdain, disrespect, bias and prejudice regarding a virus that has nothing to do with their race, ethnicity or birthplace. Racism is Being Silent when there is xenophobia, greed, othering, exclusion and hatred. Racism is Silence! Racism is No Action!

The Virus and You

CoVid19 is impacting the world. It is impacting you. It is impacting your family. It is impacting your community. The way YOU respond when people use the origination of this virus and the impact of it in a racist manner is also about YOU. You must stand up! You must speak up! You must ACT! You must not let anyone or any group to be marginalized at any time. Let’s all show up and show that We are All Amazing!How we address CoVid19 socially and through human relationships as a nation will determine how we survive and thrive today and tomorrow.

Are you interested or committed to equity and inclusion?

Coach Cheryl Reeve is the four time WNBA Championship coach of the Minnesota Lynx. She is a great leader and excellent coach. At a recent event showcasing the Lynx President’s Circle, she shared the great work of the Lynx organization. During her presentation, Coach Reeve asked a simple but thoughtful question that we all should ask ourselves, “Are you interested or committed to diversity (equity) and inclusion?” Her question implies that there is a difference between the way commitment looks, feels and performs and that it is very different than the behaviors someone exhibits when they are just interested. Let’s explore her hypothesis and see if there is something to this thought.

If you are interested in losing weight what might it look like in your actions. You could express your interest by reading a book on weight loss. You could express your interest by viewing a movie or attending a seminar on weight loss. You could outline a strategy for healthy weight loss and post it on your refrigerator. You could hire a trainer and a nutritionist and meet with them to discuss a plan for losing weight. You could join a gym. These behaviors demonstrate an interest in losing weight.

If you are committed to losing weight, what might your behaviors look like? You could identify a weight loss goal and pick a date by which you want to lose the weight. You could purchase foods that are healthier and cook and eat those foods as part of your new diet. You could join a gym and visit three days a week and workout for an hour. You could check in regularly with an accountability partner and make sure you take the advice of your partner when called out on your challenge of losing weight. These behaviors demonstrate a commitment to losing weight. This commitment manifests itself through intentional actions and are reinforced through goal setting and accountability.

So what if you are interested in equity, diversity and inclusion rather than committed. What does that interest look like? You could read a book on equity and inclusion. You could watch some Ted Talks on Structural Racism and go to seminars on Racial Equity. You could outline a strategy for building awareness, implicit bias and inclusive leadership. You could hire a Chief Inclusion Officer and join many national equity and inclusion groups. These behaviors demonstrate an interest in equity, diversity and inclusion.

So what does a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion look like? You could allocate a significant budget to do equity, diversity and inclusion work. You could invest in a Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and a team (more than two people) dedicated to addressing internal and external equity and inclusion strategies. You could design develop and implement strategies that hire interns of color, establish specific and measurable goals for hiring people of color in all roles, establish specific and measurable goals for spending with diverse vendors, establish specific and measurable goals for reducing attrition for people of color, sponsor (monetary) career fairs and other events that focus on racially diverse, disabled and LGBTQ communities, and invest in strategies that educate, mentor and promote current racially diverse employees to higher level opportunities.

A commitment would have a CEO consistently investing in equity and inclusion and using his OWN voice to show the commitment to leaders and all employees. A commitment would have medical staff that addresses health disparities by identifying, measuring and then implementing strategies to reduce those disparities. A commitment would have various community partnerships with transparent relationships where there is mutual accountability, respect and support. A commitment would have a primary pillar of the organization’s strategic plan focusing on equity and changing the healthcare system to provide equitable outcomes, elimination of structural racism and providing health equity solutions for all patients and families.

So ask yourself are you interested or committed to equity and inclusion? Your answer may surprise you.


Too Black, Too Strong, Too Intimidating, Too Demanding, Too Harsh, Too Much to Handle – Do You Really Want Equity?

Equity is giving people what they need to be successful. Equity NEVER focuses on giving people equal amounts in order to be fair and just. Instead, equity takes into account structural racism, bias, discrimination and many other barriers and then realizes that some groups need different solutions than other groups. Equity is NOT Equal! Equity does not treat everybody the same. As we begin 2020, I want to share my perspectives on Equity and what it takes to move it forward.

Too Black

Someone told me that someone told them that when James was the Chief Inclusion Officer for the State of Minnesota, he did too much for the Black Community and therefore other communities of color and the Native American community were not happy with him. In the past when I heard something like this, I would get angry and try and justify my actions or defend my stance for the Black community. I will no longer take that stance. Instead, I will say, I am TOO Black! I was born a Black Man. I own the greatness as well as the challenges of being a Black Man. I own the Detroit upbringing that taught me to always look out for US! I own my commitment to increase state spending in the Black Community that led to a 1000 percent increase in spending with Black businesses. Equity required this of me and for that there will never be an apology. As for the assumption about what other communities think about me because I practice equity, I will let you ask them. I am positive my sisters and brothers from another mother have a different story to tell about me and my work than the person who made the comment about me. Equity is Too Black!

Too Strong

I have often been told that I am pushy when it comes to the work of equity in Minnesota. Some have said that I don’t understand that everybody is trying “their best.” I have also been told that people are afraid of you James because “your presence takes over the room.” Lastly, I have many times been blamed for people not offering a counter opinion because they “thought” I would not hear what they had to say. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 or more inequities for communities of color and Native Americans. I will not belabor the horrible statistics because you have heard them many times before. We are bad in unemployment, home ownership, health equity, economic development, education, etc. When things are in a dire straight and change must happen NOW, I submit that there is no such thing as Too Strong. It is quite possible that people in the past have not been strong enough to make change and also not strong enough to hold people accountable. It could be that if we increased our strength to not only have tough conversations, but also exhibit tough actions we would all be stronger and healthier in Minnesota. Equity is Too Strong!

Too Intimidating, Too Demanding, Too Harsh

If you don’t demand change, change will not happen. Many people have asked nicely and politely and when told to apologize for asking. The infant mortality rate for Black mothers is 2.3 times higher than that of white mothers. Black babies are 3.8 times more likely to die from complications of low birth rate than white babies. In other words, the HARSH reality is that Black babies are dying and we need everyone to be more intimidating, harsh and demanding until this tragedy is fixed. If you are worried about being nice or well received rather than urgent, that could be the root of the problem. Equity is Intimidating, Demanding and Harsh!

Too Much (Hot) to Handle

An old Heatwave album from the 80’s was entitled Too Hot to Handle. The picture of a LP on the front of album was so hot that it was melting. My goal in 2020 is to be Too Hot to Handle for Equity. What does Too Hot to Handle look like? Well, I am so glad you asked. It looks like ridiculously high hiring and retention goals for people of color and Native Americans that some think can’t be met. It looks like ridiculously high supplier diversity spend goals that some say cannot be met. It looks like holding people accountable for their actions who consistently demonstrate inappropriate behavior towards people of color and Native Americans. It also means holding people accountable for their inactions in resolving these issues. Lastly, it looks like addressing the statement of “we have never done it that way before,” with the response, “equity requires that we do it differently and it may look nothing like we expected.” Equity is Too Hot to Handle!

As you bring in the new year and the new decade ask yourself do you really want equity? If the answer is yes, ask yourself what are you willing to do achieve it. Your answer may surprise you.