Making corporate statements is not my idea of problem-solving. Many of the open letters I have seen feel utterly transactional — a check on the public relations box. But words do matter. It is meaningful to get on the record for saying that we, as a company, stand with Black Lives Matter, because saying nothing is saying something. But it is not enough. Apologizing and giving money isn't enough either.As an executive officer of this company, I willingly admit that I am more of a 1:1-, not a 1:N-type of a communicator. That is where I feel most comfortable and effective because I prefer dialogues over speaking to hear my own voice. Dialogues are how I learn as well as how I teach. As a student of movements, there are steps and phases along the entire path to social justice and change. A statement can be a first step, but it cannot be the last.
This is the moment to rewrite the black code that was created by America's original programmers.
Most people have no idea what it cost for activists, especially women of color in any space, to make statements. Many of my contemporaries have expressed dismay that they "just can't" because of the vitriolic blowback (or deafening silence) they have received when they do speak up as women of color in the workplace. Sometimes it is just plain fatiguing to have to explain that which is learnable from:
- simply googling some shit;
- picking up a real history book and questioning what you were force-fed in elementary school;
- expanding one's circle of friends/co-workers;
- being OK with being uncomfortable till you get comfortable.
Women of color put aside the crushing mental load of responsibility and toxic racial stress to "lean in" by default — Every. Day. We show up for all of those around us and deserve no less in return.
I could drop all kinds of statistics since most of you are a quantitative lot, to which, numbers may make a difference in understanding racism, privilege, and power. However, that is not the purpose of this particular statement of our support of Black Lives Matter. There is more to do and a next step to take.
We have to start with this:
“Pausing for a moment to hold space for every Black person who woke up to work requests for input, productivity, responsiveness, and labor with no acknowledgment of or genuine compassion for this present moment.”
Where we start our work is in the 1:1. While watching what is (and has been) happening in black and brown communities across the US is profoundly painful to talk about, my sadness, fear, and rage have never been things that I have held back from my team in our private and public spaces. It is comforting and healing to know that the workplace that we create together enables me to speak freely, without fear or filter, about how I am feeling and what I am experiencing, largely because of the kind of people we strive to be. We "hold space" for anyone in emotional trauma. We are not perfect, but I know that we afford each other the opportunity to feel unconditional positive regard and listen deeply while giving each other the benefit of the doubt, even when we pick the wrong words.
Dismantling racism is more than paying lip service and declaring how much you are against it in a chat room or a protest sign. Redistributing power actively in our daily lives and allowing others to take up space in each other's society—freely, enthusiastically, honestly, respectfully—are the only way forward through a 400-year-old American quagmire of policing black bodies. Read up and make NO assumptions about the meanings and intent behind the words someone uses like
#abolishpolice. Give each other the space to be vulnerable, ask questions, have empathy, and come up with better words and possible solutions.
Start there in your own spaces and spheres of influence. This is the moment to rewrite the black code that was created by America's original programmers.
Tag1 will carry on our traditions of having open conversations and respectful debates, as well as continue to make sure that people of color are represented at all levels and have meaningful input to our company's trajectory whether they choose to be on the scene or behind the scene, as they wish. We will work harder to develop a talent pipeline, including strengthening partnerships in our broader networks with underrepresented talent.
We will always back each other up, take risks, share what we gain, and act accountably. There is more to do and a next step to take, and another, and another.