Waking up to news that another black person has been shot by the police is difficult, to say the least. Pain. Tears. Anger. Worry. Concern. More tears. And then we look at our black husbands and whisper silent prayers for protection and safety, because we know that even though they are upstanding, law-abiding citizens, they could be the next. We could be next. #SandraBland #SayHerName
Going to work in corporate America on these mornings is even harder. Yesterday, the ability to complete our morning routines was greatly stifled by our anger, hurt, frustration and sheer confusion in response to the fatal shootings of #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile. And despite it all, we still had to go to work in corporate America and perform. The demands, despite the societal unrest and our community’s pain, were still the same. We are still expected to arrive at work and be professional, responsive, positive, sharp, and team players. And the thought of somehow hiding our pain, and smiling through the day made us nauseous.
For those who don’t know, Alton Sterling was a 37 year-old black man, father of five, whom two Baton Rouge police officers slammed on a car, and shot, point-blank, after he was tased and while he was held on the ground and restrained. Both officers involved in the shooting were white. Philando Castile was a 32 year-old black man who worked in the cafeteria at a Flacon Heights, Minnesota elementary school, who memorized almost 500 students’ names and food allergies. He was in the passenger seat of a car pulled over for a broken tail light. He was licensed to carry a firearm, and allegedly warned the officer that he had a gun and the license before he reached for his ID at the request of the officer. The officer then shot him, four times, while his girlfriend’s four year-old daughter was in the back seat of the car. News of Alton and Philando’s murders spread across the world within 24 hours.
Despite these killings, we still went to work. Calling in black is not an option we can select when noting days off in our respective systems. We had meetings… and had to give each other pep talks to go to them. The sheer strength that it took to go to work yesterday, the strength it will take to go today, is indescribable. It’s not that the people we work with are bad people or overtly racist. It’s that we are so hurt by the killings and what #history says about the lack of consequences that will exist for the shooting officers and their partners. It’s the systematic devaluation of black lives that makes it hard to breathe or work. We wouldn’t wish the pain and grief and despair that we feel when black people are shot to death on anyone, not even other police officers (RIP to every officer in the Dallas shooting). It takes a valiant effort to face the infinite opportunities that are coupled with the perceived threat we pose to people who don’t look like us and the way our co-workers silently acquiesce with all senseless killings of black men that makes us feel like we are choking or suffocating. We remember the chatter at work the day after the Orlando shooting and the way we held off on launching a fundraising campaign for DAPP for fear of seeming insensitive and out of concern for our LGBT brothers and sisters. We remember people commenting how it was a shame, how something had to be done about assault rifles, and the outpour of support for the LGBT community. The way that folks carried on with business as usual on Thursday was gut-wrenching.
Although we’ve had the great fortune to work in government, law firms, and corporations, we don’t take the opportunities for granted, and we also recognize the power of this platform. Yet our tax-bracket, education and platform doesn’t change the fact that our race renders us helpless. These killings are senseless. We struggle to comprehend how people fail to see these murders as anything more than injustice and systematic failure of black people. At the least, we hope you can recognize the fact that all parts of the system – some of those sworn to serve and protect, the jury of peers, and those responsible for apportioning liability and sentencing folks for crimes that are elementally-defined within state and federal statutes – are failing. The system fails black people more than any other race. And the black people who work in your corporate office are detrimentally affected by this failure. To add insult to injury, the people we work with on a daily basis often turn a blind eye to these perils while outwardly expressing outrage for animals and people in other countries or of other races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. Unless you have something productive or supportive to say to your minority co-workers today, it may be a good idea to save it until next week. “Just because we’re magical, doesn’t mean we’re not real.” #JesseWilliamsTaughtUs
Brothers and sisters, take your time, but stay professional, responsive, positive, sharp, and team players. Your lives depend on it.
In case this outward expression of outrage and explanation for how difficult it is to go to work and be productive when a genocide is brewing against your race isn’t enough for you to speak up, foster conversations, and no longer remain silent, you should know that even Fortune says you should do it. If it’s in Fortune, it must be true. #BlackLivesMatter #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #StopHate #Staywoke #UncolorblindINformation