In my family and workplace, we have watched and talked about the news this week, sharing in the horror and senseless tragedy of George Floyd’s death and the resulting protests in Denver and around the country and world.
I’ve considered whether and how to weigh in – not because I, as a white woman business owner, have something to say that rises to any level of importance on these issues.
Frankly, right now, people like me need to talk less and listen more.
However, I recognize that, however small, I do have a platform to share – with our employees, our clients and friends. And to remain silent implies that I or we don’t get the extreme gravity and opportunity of this moment.
So, I considered what I know, and what I don’t know, when it comes to racism – and what I, as a woman and business leader, can do to leverage this moment and add our voice to the growing chorus demanding change.
To start, I know these things to be true:
As a white person, I grew up and continue to exist with privilege.
And I am accountable for understanding the experiences of those who exist with less. It is not the responsibility of black people to educate me about racism. It is my responsibility to explore it, understand it and take steps to confront it.
As a woman, I have experienced the fear of walking down a dark street at night. And yet, that experience pales in comparison to the fear that black people must face each and every day where they live, work and recreate.
As a mother, my heart breaks each time a mother loses her son to police brutality. My heart also aches when I consider parents who must steel themselves to have “the talk” with their children as they come of age, about the danger they face in the world simply because of the color of their skin.
As someone born and raised in Denver, I feel shame that our community continues to be too segregated and that many families live with fewer resources and less access to health care, good schools and jobs.
Meanwhile, many white families live in relative comfort and safety in suburbs, surrounded by green belts and swimming pools. This disparity is due, in part, to systemic racism that has advantaged generations of white people over people of color.
As a business owner and leader, I acknowledge that I am responsible for demonstrating support for systemic changes that need to occur in Colorado and fostering an enduring commitment to changing our company, inside and out, as well as the industry in which we work. This is not just about writing something now; it’s about committing to real, substantive actions that will be measured not just this year, but decades from now.
That’s about all I know: five things. There are many more that I don’t fully understand.
But I am committed to continuing to listen to the voices around me as we go through this experience, however differently, together – and using what I learn to support substantive change.
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