The United States has a problem with racism. It is a structural problem. It has been written into our laws for 400 years. Structural racism has led to persistent, systemic inequality across the country. This inequality should be an embarrassment to all of us.
Last year I began to realize my own complicitness, perpetuating these inequalities. In the language of human resources I am not in a protected class. Almost everyone is in a protected class. I am not. I am a white, anglo-saxon, protestant, cis-gendered male. I was born in the United States in 1980. I have every advantage that the world affords. I was not using this privelege to correct the wrongs my society has inflicted on it’s citizens of color.
There is a saying that if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. This is never more true than in issues such as systemic racism. It is not enough that we are not racist. We must be actively anti-racist because there is a fundamental equity gap that must be overcome.
I am now actively teaching my kids to identify racist biases and stand against them. I was raised that all people were created equal and only work ethic separated us. My kids will know that all people are created equal, that work ethic is important, and that systemic forces place unnecessary burdens on entire classes of people such as people of color, women, and people identifying as non-gender binary.
I have also taken steps to change the way my company hires. It is an ongoing process but I am happy of the steps we have taken. The truth is that by simply hiring the best candidate your workforce will become more inclusive. However, finding ways to overcome personal bias is difficult. I am proud of my management team. We are not perfect but our workforce is a better reflection of our community than many. We will not stop working. My team itself is comprised of the prototypical white male boss (me), but is 40% female (some work to do), 25% Asian American, 25% Hispanic American, 50% white (fair amount more work to do). Our teams are in better shape with 10% Middle Eastern, 16% African American, 50% Hispanic American, and 14% white.
I have become more active with my money as well. I’ve redirected a large portion of my giving to support causes that help Black Lives Matter Movement through Change.org and the local African American Chamber of Commerce. If we care about changing our society we have to actively support the people of color in our communities. I am not sure there will ever be a time that humanity can be blind to race. I am sure that now is not that time. We must realize that race matters, policy matters, our decisions matter.
There is a post on Medium that is now 4 years old. It started as a short list of things white people could do to support racial justice. It is regularly updated and now includes 103 Things. Read it. Pick something. Do something.