Black Lives Matter is not a fad. It’s a movement that gives voices to the voiceless and amplifies their stories. If you think about it, BLM is an evolution of the Civil Rights Movement pioneered by the descendants of our ancestors who always knew Black lives were the exception to court justice.
Do all lives matter? Theoretically, yes. But historically, our justice system has told us all lives do not matter.
Do you remember Emmett Till? Do you know what happened during his trial? First off, the trial’s all-white male jury took a little over one hour to acquit his murderers. During deliberation, they listened to a boxing match over the radio and laughed over sodas. In the end, the jury found them not guilty. Why wouldn’t they? Two white men savagely beating a 14-year-old Black male teenager to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman–who later recanted her story that it never happened–was no more criminal than it was admissible. The not-guilty verdict affirmed truths: all lives do not matter, particularly, if you are black.
Present-day, that argument still stands on solid ground. A ground layered throughout the past 400 years with affirmations of that particular truth. Why do you think Ahmaud Arbery’s killers are using the citizen’s arrest defense? They have absolutely no piece of evidence to indicate that Ahmaud was the alleged theft breaking into vehicles in the neighborhood besides him being a Black man.
You can lay every single piece of fact on the table; it means nothing if the people at the table see what they want to see–their truths.
You can have a video of a police officer kneeling on an unarmed man’s neck for nine minutes and hear him say, “I can’t breathe,” but it won’t ever be enough. When will it be enough? When will people really SEE what we see? Cue coronavirus.
There’s no denying COVID-19 contributed to the global impact that George Floyd has had on racial justice and police reform. What makes George’s case so different is no other high-profile police brutality case happened during a pandemic disease while the world is at a halt. By the time George died in May, the US was living in quarantine since March. The headlines no longer read the states’ death tolls. Instead, newscasts, newspapers, and news websites all told the (familiar) story of another unarmed Black man dying at the hands of excessive police restraint. You may say serendipity.
This is 2020. What is more interesting than how nations, governments, societies, and households are handling COVID-19 is seeing how it put the spotlight on race in America: it silenced all the noise and distractions. What else is there to discuss when not even a sports game is on air? Your planned summer vacations are interrupted. The concert you’ve been anticipating since you purchased your ticket is now canceled. And now you’re stuck in the house up in the house bored and the only trending topic circulating the headlines is about a novel disease spreading like an uncontrollable wildfire.
Then and only then did people actually start paying attention to what has been going on but is just started to be recorded for the world to see. COVID-19 competed with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Two killed by police and the other killed by people acting like police; one who happened to be retired from the police force. With the power of social media, these three names were in your face all day every day. See, social media isn’t all that bad. And when the corporate world is tuned into what the world is talking about, they tap in. Cue Juneteenth promotion.
Currently, I am an active Linkedin user; so, I notice when companies make cosmetic changes to their logos. Countless companies changed the color of its logo profile to
I mean, having a message on your company website disparaging racism is cute, but the real message is how race plays into who works there and where. That’s where the real support of minority communities holds weight. In short: keep that same energy when Black and brown people apply to jobs.
Corporate America isn’t a colorful or coed place.Modern day kay
Only Black men account for less than 1% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Black people make up 3.2% of executive and senior-level positions at large companies. Women represent 6% of CEOs of the U.S. largest publicly traded 500 companies.
It’s not that we–women and African Americans–don’t want to be there, we’re not given as many chances as our white peers. And when it does happen (numbers clearly indicate its rarity), the stakes are extremely high that failure and mediocrity is not an option. There’s no drought in the talent pool of qualified applicants that make it hard to diversify boardrooms. The issue is there is no bridge for that talent pool to cross over into prominent roles. So there’s this unvarying gap that is not reducing in size but simply moving along with time.
There should be no reason in 2020 that only 37 women are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and just three are women of color (didn’t say black). Google “Dr. Lisa Su”, “Joey Wat”, and “Sonia Syngal”.
I feel that as a woman–a Black woman–I can’t speak on the lack of melanin in corporate America without touching on the lack of feminine energy too. But how are WE going to change this? Yes, how are we going to bridge the gap of Black lives mattering in the corporate world?
For starters, companies need transparency. We need to see how diversity and inclusion are actually cultivated in the workplace. This means making data accessible that reports workplace demographics.
The next thing is practicing what you preach. Listen, I like seeing companies speak up for racial and social justice, but what I don’t like is when it only happened because you didn’t want to be left out. You want to publish posts to the company Instagram and messages on your homepage, ok cool. But it’s not cool to talk the talk and not walk the walk. If you’re going to speak about it, be about it. Like I said, keep that same energy when those applications roll in and those applicants are black.
Black lives just don’t matter in the streets. Representation is a real thing.