Racism, when it has become “structured” into a society and into its institutions, is a very complex thing. We like to think it is an “unfortunate incident” which happened because the person to whom it happened was complicit in some way. It is not. Every action you take is governed by the bigotry structured into the society in which you live which has successfully structured that bigotry into every core and every cell of its existence. The experience of bigotry is not a one time experience. It is all day everyday for those who are the “minority.” It is also an all day everyday experience for those who are “white.” Their lives move ahead beyond their talents and contributions to this society because of the fact that they are in the “better than” group.
Consider the tremendous economic opportunity inherent in a single percentage point. Think about the enormous economic impact of moving the needle of progress along a pathway toward racial equity by just a single percentage point.
First, let’s define the term, “racial equity” to establish a common frame of reference and understanding. For many, racial equity refers to equitable access to resources and opportunity. That definition is accurate but incomplete. In the realm of homeowners, business owners and investors, “equity” refers to “ownership.” Equitable ownership of lands, homes, businesses and intellectual property are valued assets that can be passed onto future generations as “generational wealth.” This is a more complete definition of racial equity in measurable terms.
The May, 2020, Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd launched thousands of anti-racism proclamations. Millions took part in that performative aftermath. Include me among those millions.
Like many people, I wear multiple hats. One is chairing the Mayor’s Multicultural Forum in Riverside, California. My half-century hometown is a sizable (330,000-person) city, whose steady but not explosive growth has enabled it to maintain a community feeling. My wife and I continually encounter people we know when we go to a restaurant or take our daily two-mile walks around a nearby lake loaded with noisy ducks, geese, and egrets.
We all heard about NASCAR’s decision to remove the Confederate Flag. And the immediate resignation of a long time driver was all over the news. There were photos of the protest parade of trucks near Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway sporting Confederate flags. Most spectacular were the shots of a plane flying overhead hauling the Confederate flag and a Defund NASCAR banner.
Controversy over Confederate statues isn’t new and divided views over what the flags stand for have been around since the war between the states. That division can sometimes take center stage like four years ago in Charlottesville over the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee. Given the uproar generated by the violence that erupted when white supremacists clashed with protesters, we expected permanent changes to our national culture.
But few Confederate monuments were officially removed or relocated after Charlottesville. And there were more internet ads than ever targeting the true believers: “We’ve got a whole bunch of Dixie stickers & decals, including confederate flag stickers and decals… Add a confederate bumper sticker to your truck … Show the world you’re not ashamed of your Southern roots and you’ll FOREVER raise our Confederate Flag. It’s Our Heritage… Our History.”
Referring to the protesters, our president said at his Arizona rally, “They hate our history, they hate our values, and they hate everything we prize as Americans.” He refers to these Confederate symbols as “our wonderful monuments” and echos on his statement of ”good people on all sides” describing the Charlottesville incident.
Branded by as un-American, anti-racism protesters aren’t waiting for federal approval to take down these monuments. In our the post-George Floyd culture, there’s little trust in official action. Yet, there’s growing awareness, sensitivity and willingness to act by organizations, universities, corporations, and municipalities. In addition to NASCAR’s decisions, some towns are moved to take down confederate statues. Lawmakers in California are revisiting affirmative action policies that were jettisoned two decades ago.
The result is a magnification of the emotions on opposite sides of the spectrum that is spiraling upward. Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase declares, “This isn’t about destroying Confederate history, it’s about destroying WHITE HISTORY… the history of America. These liberals and socialists seek to paint us as racists when it’s them who are racist.” The White House adds threats of violent repercussions towards anyone taking down these statues without official approval.
It’s disturbing to hear comments crediting God for raining out the NASCAR re-opening as punishment. The battle over whose history and whose racism only intensifies with a rally cry of divine purpose and evoking God’s name. A modern-day civil war isn’t far fetched, especially given the economic and social unrest of COVID-19. That’s why it’s so vital for religious leaders to intervene and make sure that our country isn’t torn apart, again.
It’s heartening to see local pastors call for learning the history of racism. We know that,”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But education doesn’t always lead to action as we saw when our state legislature recently adjourned with little done. And some resent that education and increasingly resist efforts for change.
Religious leaders can inspire their flock, educate us all, and pray for those making the path by walking it. But they can also help congregational leaders engage in public policy, urban planning, economic development and election reform. We need to mobilize the change makers of all faiths to come together, design that future, and implement it. And we need to make sure that they’re heard.
HISTORIAN ELWOOD WATSON URGES COMPANIES TO SUPPORT BLACK COMMUNITY BY ADDRESSING ECONOMICS OF SYSTEMIC RACISM
Corporate Social Responsibility Goes Beyond Cosmetic Changes to Brands, Says Professor
WASHINGTON – Professor Elwood Watson, PhD is calling on corporate America to address the economic impact of institutional racism – in allegiance with the Black Lives Matter movement and all people of color – rather than making superficial branding changes to products some perceive as racist.
Perspectives and Quotes
Editor’s Note: In these challenging times when race-related issues are at the forefront of American society, the American Diversity Report is pleased to share quotes from our advisors and colleagues. I have no doubt that their words of wisdom will stick in our readers’ minds.
If there’s an upside to the images of those protesting the death of George Floyd, it’s dismantling the myth of angry blacks alone roaming the streets, looting, setting fires and burning down their neighborhoods. I mean, one must be blind if they did not see people other than African Americans holding up “Black Lives Matter” posters, getting tear gassed, hand cuffed, arrested ….and looting. Truly a watershed moment in social history if ever there was one.
“Oh my, why are they destroying property in their own neighborhoods?” “They’re hurting their own cause!” Continue reading Try living in the building – by Terry Howard
Remember Rashard Brooks and Other
Black Victims of Police Brutality
In 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to sweep the country, the arc of justice needs to bend more quickly in the case of Rayshard Brooks and other African Americans who have been killed by police. This is especially important as the country commemorates Juneteenth.
The justice system must send a clear message that overzealous police cannot get away with targeting and treating Black men and women as second class citizens. Every American must fully comprehend that all Black lives matter.
Continue reading Juneteenth Message – by Elwood Watson
In the wake of the killing of George Flyod and the civil unrest that followed, communities of color around the country are feeling more empowered to speak out on issues of racism that make their everyday life harder and even painful. These bitter experiences are not limited to the dominant culture but also take place within communities of colors themselves.
Speaking within the Muslim community, voices echoing sentiments of injustice started rising on the maltreatment of black Muslims under the patronage of Arab leadership. Among the stories that have been circulating offensive social media posts among Arab employers, lack of participants representation among mosque dwellers and incidents of verbal offense among school board members towards black students or their parents.
THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING
I have always specialized in hostile or militant audiences but from time to time even I have to step back and pause for a second. Current events are always “fair game” in my workshops; it is what makes my sessions current, electric and never boring. Recent moments of truth in my sessions lead me to pen and update to the original article I wrote many years ago. The recent rash of horrible racial injustices (some say pattern) of Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd to Amy Cooper has erupted into a national conversation about racial injustice, white privilege, inequity, diversity, inclusion, and more.
Comments like – “I don’t care about BLM – Black Lives Matter, I am trying to run a business” or “White Lives Matter” or worse “White Lives Matter More (WLMM)” when people mention “Black Lives Matter” has led many to the politicization and polarization of these horrible atrocities and we these acts continue a horrible pattern of racial injustice. You have to go back to “Rodney King had it coming!” and “Tayvon Martin, who cares.” Today, you must be a “liberal” or a “conservative” – ouch!