Racial Justice: A Commitment to Taking Action
Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks are on a too-long list of Black people whose lives have been taken by police brutality and bigotry. Their families – their children and their parents – have suffered tremendously, and without change, Black Americans will continue to battle a racist culture that not only makes their educational, professional and financial success difficult to achieve, but also threatens to take their lives in the process.
At our firm, we’re in the early stages of understanding and learning how we need to evolve. Frankly, some of us have a long way to go.
That starts with me. I am reckoning with my own individual choices, privilege and biases. There are so many small and large ways I need to intentionally change and become an effective ally.
It’s time to learn from people like Nicole Cardoza, who educates with passion and knowledge in her Anti-Racism Daily newsletter. It’s time to listen hard to people like Sebene Selassie and Nikole Hannah-Jones, to Goldie Taylor and to Yamiche Alcindor. It’s time to take action, from buying from Black-owned businesses to advocating for legal change to resisting posturing with performative allyship. In short, a lot less “talking” about diversity and a lot more “doing” about inclusion.
Most importantly, for me personally, it’s past time to ensure my children recognize their own bias, so we can help break this relentless cycle of prejudice and pain.
What about our firm? It’s essential for us to evolve, too. We’re a white owned firm that’s part of a largely white industry of public storytellers. Our company — and our marketing narratives — need to better reflect the vibrancy of all of us, not just some of us.
Our preliminary steps to support systemic change include:
- Sending a monthly donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund so we can help dismantle the laws that extend racism
- Advocating for and promoting Black employees to positions of leadership and influence within our firm
- Designating an annual internship for a BIPOC professional, every summer
- Establishing recruiting relationships with historically Black universities and colleges
- Rethinking our networking and interview practices so that they are fair and inclusive
- Training our team to look inward to find their own unconscious bias
- Offering our critical thinking to clients who want to make changes in their own approach to communicating, and, sometimes, our free services to help make that change tangible
- Identifying and then donating our time to a pro bono organization who is leading the way in this movement
But all of that probably only gets us to mile three of the marathon. We’re thinking hard about how to keep the urgency going when the attention shifts.
Bliss expects to be held accountable for lasting change. That includes sharing our data now, with organizations like Worldcom and the Diversity Action Alliance, and our progress later. We also hope to work with emerging racial justice non-profits like 600 & Rising, when they expand to include Communication firms.
We’ll keep learning, including from our inevitable failures and mistakes. Somehow, along the way, it might just make the world a little bit better place.
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Photo credit: “2020-06-07-Oakland-BlackLivesMatter-Murals_225” by Daniel Arauz is licensed under CC BY 2.0