Black Voices: Berkeley Haas community shares perspectives on racism and the fight for social justice

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Clockwise from left: Marco Lindsey, associate director at DEI at Haas; Erika Walker, assistant dean of the undergraduate program; Dan Kihanya, MBA 96, Elisse Douglass, MBA 16;  Ace Patterson, MBA 16; and Bree Jenkins, MBA 19.

BLM collage

View all their posts here.

Dan Kihanya, MBA 96: Do you see me in this American crisis?

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

I am sad, frustrated, angry, and exhausted. I’ve wanted to write this for several days. I stopped, started, revised, and rewrote it a dozen times. In the meantime, I’ve been watching, listening, discussing, reading…and reflecting. As is my nature, contemplation overruled instant reaction. As an entrepreneur, I’m already in solution mode. But that is for another blog post. This one is about processing and being authentic. Now is the time.

Dan Kihanya, MBA 96, an entrepreneur and creator of Founders Unfound, a website that celebrates black entrepreneurs
Dan Kihanya. MBA 96

Do you see me?

The death of George Floyd is devastating beyond words. It’s been pointed out so, so many times. This is yet another example of systemic racism that perpetuates within the dynamics of our American society. It’s heart-wrenching to know that his family and friends must forever be tortured by a video capturing his last moments while being murdered…by the police. And just as horrifying to me is the senseless repetition of these events, over and over — filmed or not. It is a gut punch, leaving me breathless. I pride myself on resilience. Getting back on the horse when I fall. Looking for the silver lining and moving forward. For the first time in a long time, however, I’ve been stunned and stopped in my tracks. Maybe I’ve been blind or in denial, but this just feels different.

Do you see me?

My parents raised me on the themes of education, religion, and service (If you want more on that, I’d encourage you to read my mom’s book). This foundation has given me so much. And I’m very keenly aware that the environment my family raised me in, and the sacrifices of those who came before me were immensely influential on my good fortunes.

So I ponder…Am I:

An educated BLACK MAN in America?

A successful BLACK MAN in America?

A servant leader BLACK MAN in America?

A Godly BLACK MAN in America?

A BLACK MAN in America who values relationships and community?

A BLACK MAN in America who mentors and listens?

Do you see me?

As an African American, I’ve learned that my blessings don’t come without cost. While frustrating and at times exhausting, I’ve accepted that there is a price. The extra eyes on me in the store. The conspicuousness of being the only person of color in the room. Shouldering the burden of “representing” others who look like me, knowing that one miscue could spoil things for those who come next. Having to pace my walk to create distance between me and a young woman walking ahead of me. Or to present the least possible threatening posture on the elevator, so as to assuage the fears of the only other rider. And knowing that a certain percentage of business interactions where I’m the “seller” will be squashed… simply because the “buyer” holds unspoken bias to my background or skin color.

As an African American, I’ve learned that my blessings don’t come without cost.

I’ve come to terms with these disadvantages. I do hope to see these hurdles erode away for my kids and their generation. And so I work away at that cause, bit by bit, relationship by relationship, person by person.

These are realities, however, I’ve learned to live with for myself.

But then…Ahmaud Arbery. And Christian Cooper. And Breonna Taylor. And George Floyd. All in alarmingly rapid succession.

This reveals something different.

Do you see me?

I can be simply bird watching in the park, following the rules as society requests. But I’ll be shown that any polite request for equal adherence, can result in a life-threatening outcome.

Know your place.

Jogging alone in my own upper-middle-class neighborhood could result in a life-threatening outcome.

You don’t belong here.

If the police are busting down my door, justified or not, there may be nothing I can do to avoid a life-threatening outcome.

You fit the profile.

Unintentional circumstances or coincidences like passing a bad $20 bill could result in a life-threatening outcome.

You are assumed guilty until proven otherwise.

So is it simply that I am A BLACK MAN IN AMERICA…no adjectives visible, no enhancing qualities need apply?

Do you see me?

I say all this not looking for personal sympathy. I recognize that I am blessed beyond measure. We are all unique. But I am not special. I am not an exception. EVERY black American is worthy of being viewed with full humanity and for the beauty and richness of the gifts endowed within him or her. My hope is rather that you recognize ALL, as you would me, with dignity and respect. I speak out now for my children, and their children, and for all those in the black community who have fewer opportunities and resources than I.

As African Americans, we are citizens with ALL the rights entitled thereto. And we represent the full breadth of culture, professions, and society that is the American tapestry. And yet, I don’t wear my resume when I walk out the door. I can’t adorn my character like a shiny coat. I do wear my brown skin. When you are black in America, you wear your skin…always.

I and all my black brothers…we are George Floyd. We are all Ahmaud Arbery. And all my black sisters are Breonna Taylor. They are all Sandra Bland.

I am proud to be a black American. I am happy to have BLACK in all caps. But I know that I am not just that, nor are any of my African American brothers and sisters. Maybe we can move towards having EVERY INDIVIDUAL’S qualities, achievements, and gifts CAPITALIZED too…

Now…which me do you really see?

Dan Kihanya, MBA 96, is an entrepreneur and the founder of Founders Unfound, an online platform to showcase underrepresented minority founders whose startups are ready for seed funding. 

Ace Patterson, MBA 16: What it means to be an ally

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Ace Patterson, MBA 16

Ace Patterson, MBA 16, aka “Call Me Ace,” spoke with OneHaas podcast host, Sean Li, EWMBA 20, about the death of George Floyd, allyship, and action steps to combat racial injustice. (Listen on YouTube below. Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts).

Bree Jenkins, MBA 19: Being Black at Berkeley Haas

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Bree Jenkins, MBA 19, who now works at Pixar, wrote this perspective for the Berkeley Haas magazine Summer 2019 issue.

Bree Jenkins

I toe the line between compassion and anger.

Or maybe it’s sadness or amusement. Probably all of the above. One of my professors, he’s smart and I like him, has called me by the other black girls’ name. She’s a close friend of mine, but she is not me. I know he doesn’t notice because when I nervously approach him after class and explain to him what happened, he looks distressed. I briefly wonder if I shouldn’t have said anything, if I’m being too sensitive or overreacting or putting a “racial lens” on something when it doesn’t need to have one.

Sometimes all you want to be is just another student, but if you don’t speak, your voice won’t be heard. And your voice is representative.

Under different circumstances, I may have just brushed it off. People mix up names all the time. But I feel the need to say something because we have just had a deep Haas-wide discussion on this very topic. It happened with another student whom I care deeply about, and he was brave enough to speak up. It’s not the action as much as it is the feeling of discomfort that has to be addressed lest it become resentment or hate or worse. My professor is apologetic and upset, embarrassed and empathetic. He is considerate of what I’m feeling but doesn’t say, I understand. I know. I appreciate that he doesn’t put words in my mouth. Later that night, he writes me an email. It is kind, thoughtful.

Most of the people that I know at Haas are just that—kind and thoughtful. Being black at Berkeley Haas meant that I was surrounded by many students and faculty who were aware or wanted to become more aware. They took classes and even created classes; classes like Dialogues on Race. They were and are true allies, and I hoped to earn my title as ally from them and have their backs. What a beautiful community I found, starting with the Consortium and my incredible co-liaisons. I also built strong friendships and relationships from being a leadership communications graduate student instructor, a rep for my cohort, and participating in the International Business Development program with a fantastic team. But sometimes, even that didn’t feel like enough.

One day in class, we watch a video about the civil rights movement. There is, of course, violence: hoses, beatings, lynching, death. Lives are changed and lineages destroyed. I soon realize that I’m the only one crying. The only one. Perhaps coincidentally I’m also the only black person in the class. Others are considerate and caring. My friends hug me and classmates and my professor check in on me after class. It could just be that they don’t cry easily, but it seemed like my classmates were observing something far away and long ago, that they weren’t connected to. Which made me feel like maybe they weren’t connected to me.

Haas is diverse. We have 40% international students and many members of the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, women, men. We have diversity of thought and of experience. We openly celebrate this and our cultural backgrounds and gender fluidity. And yet there were only three black women in my class. Two in the class of 2020. I’ve heard people argue that, “Black people don’t understand the value of a graduate degree” or “It’s the pipeline problem.” Pipeline problems exist, but did we check to see where our pipes were connected to? If the line is faulty perhaps it’s connected to the wrong source. Where was our strong representation in Atlanta? In D.C.? In our own staff? How can we expect to attract this demographic without being intentional?

This feeling isn’t new or limited to Berkeley, however. I felt the same in my undergraduate institution where I was one of the few black engineers in diverse Atlanta. Or in my first job after college, where for three years I was the only black person on a team of 70. It’s just getting old at this point.

I was asked what it’s like to be black at Berkeley Haas. What is it like to be black anywhere in America? To be reminded that despite being integral to this country, you don’t exactly belong. To be the first in your household, your generation, maybe even your extended family to attend a place like this and be heaped with praise by how much you’re able to “overcome” and how you must be special and smart. All the while, you know at least 10 other people just as smart as you and even more hardworking who just couldn’t afford your undergraduate institution or the test prep or to take time off of work to come to a place like Berkeley. You don’t feel special—you feel lucky, considering that if your mom had not moved to a city with better schools, perhaps you would be another person with “lost potential.”

Being black means being surrounded by people who don’t think about race every day and marveling at that. Marveling that they don’t talk about the injustices of a society that has already nearly forgotten its past and keeps repeating it with a fresh set of faces. It’s sitting on a panel, leading a small group discussion, or even writing an article— about being black at Berkeley Haas. Sometimes all you want to be is just another student, but if you don’t speak, your voice won’t be heard. And your voice is representative. You have to keep reminding people that you do not carry the perspective of everyone who happens to have your same skin color. You are an individual; sometimes you want to be treated that way.

Then, when you write the article, you decide to tone it down so that readers will take you seriously and not dismiss you as an angry black woman when you decided to try vulnerability. And still you fear the reaction.

Binundu Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20: It is not OK!

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Binundu Isaiah Samuel,
co-president of the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Class of 2020, sent this letter to classmates. We’re reposting with his permission.

Dear Executive MBA Family,

Binundu Isaiah Samuel
Binundu Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20

I watched the execution of George Floyd in horror and pain. Sadly, images and stories of similar atrocities have become all too common yet, this one hit different! I watched a man cry out for mercy only for his cries to fall on deaf ears. I watched a man in pain and agony cry out for his mother in fear of losing his life! Yet, his cries were drowned out by hate, ignorance, and a lack of decency for a fellow human being. No one was able to intervene, no one was able to save George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor. The cries of the brutalized have echoed for generations, and now here we are. It is not ok!

The history of this nation is marred by episodes of hate. Repetitive cycles, where black bodies and lives are mangled, abused, beaten, disrespected, tortured, and made to feel less than human. It is not ok! 

I cried as I watched another one of my black brothers struggle for his life, and could not help but think about how that could have easily been me or someone I cared about. The video reminded me of the excessive caution that I have to exercise when interacting with police, for fear of becoming another statistic. The video reminded me of the racial slurs that I’ve endured from ignorant groups and people alike. The video reminded me of how I fear for my black friends and family, and how our safety isn’t guaranteed even at the hands of those sworn to protect us. The video reminded me of the anxiety that I feel about how those in positions of power will react to my application for a job or opportunity when they realize that I am a black candidate. Believe me; being black every day in America is a constant reminder of a broken system that screams “we don’t want you” and to be honest, I am tired. It is not ok!

The video reminded me of the anxiety that I feel about how those in positions of power will react to my application for a job or opportunity when they realize that I am a black candidate.

I am sharing this because I feel that it is important and necessary for us to align as an EMBA community. It is time for us to decide where we stand. Are you going to be on the side of justice, equality, and fairness for all? Or are you going to pretend that there are no problems? The time for pretense is over! The mask has been lifted, and the scars are exposed for all to see – just listen to the cries reverberating from all corners of the globe. The world is in pain. It is not ok!

EMBA 20’s, we are the future. Our cohort will give rise to great leaders who will have the opportunity and power to drive change and influence the world! We must heed the lessons of our past and present to ensure our future will be better. We must remember, that in whatever capacity, the change can start with us!

Thanks to those that have reached out to me—it means a lot! Please know that I do not claim to have the answers – I am still learning, analyzing, organizing, and digesting all that is occurring. As I look for ways to contribute towards a solution, I welcome you to join me in dialogue, partnership, and allyship. 

Here is a folder with more anti-racism resources.

Be well and take care, EMBA family.

Binundu Isaiah Samuel
Class Co-President, EMBA Class of 2020

A message from Black MBA students: “a time of grief for us”

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Malaysia Hammond, 19, places flowers at a memorial mural for George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. AP Photo: John Minchillo

Dear Haas Community,

This has been a time of grief for us, your black classmates, as we were reminded in multiple ways about the dangers of being a black person in this country.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery reminded us that our lives are less valued in this country. When we are killed, it is often without consequence. Our deaths are only seen as tragedies if it is determined that we have lived blameless lives. Our claims of racism are only taken seriously when they’re recorded.

We watched as a liberal white woman attempted to weaponize the New York Police Department against Christian Cooper, a black man, by feigning assault after he asked her to leash her dog. This reminded us that the people who perpetuate racism—and the people who suffer from it—are not limited by educational achievement (both had degrees from prestigious institutions), by region, or by political affiliation.

Finally, we are seeing that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting black communities: this is due to systemic disparities in healthcare access, historical discrimination resulting in adverse social determinants of health, and our outsized role in “essential” service industry jobs.

As black people, even being students in positions of privilege, we are deeply aware that we and our loved ones face a different set of risks than others. We also know that these incidents are not the only ones — they are just the ones that made headlines.

As black people, even being students in positions of privilege, we are deeply aware that we and our loved ones face a different set of risks than others.

We’re thankful for the acknowledgement, resources, and programming already provided by Dean Ann Harrison, our MBAA, the DEI Office, and the Program Office. We’re also thankful for the support that we’ve already received from our classmates and other members of our Haas community, through in-person messages, and on Slack.

If you are wondering how you can help, please consider the following:

  • Ask us how we’re doing. We may not want to talk much, but we will appreciate your concern for us. Please do not try to engage us in political or intellectual discussions at this
  • Read and listen to black perspectives on recent events — especially if you don’t like to talk about race in America. Understanding is an important step to empathy, and black perspectives on the meaning of this moment are easily accessible on the news and social media. For even more context on race in America, the Race Inclusion Initiative’s Resource Library has a ton of information.
  • Share with your friends and family what you learn. If you are angry, tell your non-black family and friends. Plan and organize how you’ll practice being an ally to the black people you know
  • Donate to an organization that contributes to racial equity. A few examples are below, but there are more.
  • The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
  • Please see this article with suggestions on where to donate money to organizations that support the protesters’ cause. (This is not an official endorsement of these organizations).

Thank you,

Black Students at Haas

Asst. Dean Erika Walker: Insight into why I’m passionate about social justice and equity

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Erika Walker, Assistant Dean for the Undergraduate Program, shared this letter with her team. 

Dear team,

Asst. Dean Erika Walker
Asst. Dean Erika Walker

You may have wanted to ask me how I’m doing but something held you back. I probably wouldn’t have processed my feelings enough to have a response at that point anyway. Some days I can talk about it and other days I’m too drained. I don’t have answers and I shouldn’t be the one who has to give them. And as I’ve been reflecting, the bottom line is that I’m not alright. I’m hurting. It is hard to focus on work. I go up and down between feeling sad, terrified, frustrated, hopeless, and angry. Hearing George Floyd cry out for his mother as he took his last breaths under the knee of a police officer broke me. It is my worst nightmare. This is happening repeatedly. I’m tired. I’m traumatized. I don’t understand what it will take for people to be outraged enough to dismantle systems of oppression. To take bold and calculated risks against the racial injustices that we are born into. These systems are what our country was built upon. The history of this nation is built on looting from others. PERIOD. It is embedded as part of the DNA of each institution that guides our lives be it health care, housing, education, financial, or social. And policing has its roots in maintaining “the order of property” from slavery to present. If we can’t acknowledge that fact and talk about it, then how on earth can we start changing the core of how we operate?

Policing has its roots in maintaining “the order of property” from slavery to present. If we can’t acknowledge that fact and talk about it, then how on earth can we start changing the core of how we operate?

You may not recognize all facets of these disparities but I experience them every single day of my life. My husband experiences it every moment as a black man. My three children recognized it as early as four and five years old. As parents, we have to think twice about them playing outside in front of the house, walking to the store, going to the park, or hanging out with friends. I’m terrified every time my son gets behind the wheel and I’m anxious about my 14 year old wanting to learn to drive. It is a sad reality that is reinforced each time aggression is captured on video. White women weaponizing the police against black people. No one policing the police when murdering black people. It is unsafe for black people in America. It is unsafe for my family. It is unsafe for me.

We cannot be okay with “I don’t see color,” “I’m not a bad person,” or “I’m not racist”. If you don’t see color, you are erasing my existence. The existence of my family tree that has its roots in slavery. The existence of this country. If you are worried about YOU not being a racist and protecting how you are perceived, then you aren’t even halfway ready to focus on anti-blackness and anti-RACISM for the good of all. So if you want to know what to do to support, start with you. Then do something. See an injustice? Say something. Research, ask questions, and take action. Vote differently. Question legislature. Think differently. Whatever level of engagement makes sense for you but please, do something.

See an injustice? Say something. Research, ask questions, and take action. Vote differently. Question legislature. Think differently.

I learned early that I had to code switch at work to make others around me comfortable with my existence. Black people do not have the luxury of avoidance. We work hard to compartmentalize and it is exhausting. Look, it’s common that we separate politics, religion, points of view, and frankly, most of the daily aspects of our lives, cultural or otherwise, from work. (Well, at least in work spaces that don’t have majority people of color.)  For those of you who remember the book, Difficult Conversations, we know that some of this is due to the identity politics that we may struggle with, which hinders our confidence and comfort level in having open and honest conversations. We don’t want to be labeled as “bad” in any way. We don’t want to make mistakes. We want to avoid conflict. We don’t want to talk about pain. Most people who are not black, don’t know how to talk about culture or injustices with black people. But friends and colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. WE HAVE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE. How can we not be uncomfortable with what we see all around us? Black people are being murdered. And for decades, the same reaction, narrative, and justifications immediately follow. “Well, what did he do to provoke the police?” “She did something in her past that may explain how she brought this on herself.” Do you not see the patterns? Ask the right questions. Dig deeper. Even in business we iterate. Let’s do something and see what works. We have to take risks.

And friends, it is not enough to not be racist. You must be anti-racist. Frankly, it is not enough to be an ally. You need to get involved.

And to be anti-racist does not mean being anti anything else. Please don’t start talking about other groups and experiences. It is okay to center on the black experience and the egregious acts against us. As human beings, it is okay to be empathetic and focused on correcting centuries of harm on black people that still plays out to this day.

Watching the news and social media today looks a lot like watching vintage and historical film except these are the same images we see over and over and they continue every day. We’ve been here before again and again. It is imperative that the cycle is broken.

We’ve recently begun doing some work around having courageous conversations and how it can be incorporated into our practice. We’ve discussed being equity leaders at work and taking part in creating equitable spaces for all. How can we be equity leaders in all aspects of our lives? What can you do in this moment?

I just needed to acknowledge what is happening in our country because business-as-usual is severely tone deaf. Amidst a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also suffering through a racism pandemic. And crazy enough, I’m relieved to be able to shelter at home. It’s safer here for my family than out there.

These are my views and opinions. I don’t have the answers. I’m just asking for help in actively creating change. To be silent is to be complicit. I’m tired of just talking philosophically about it. What actions can we take today?

I know a lot of resources are available out there but you may not know where to start. Here are some:

Ally vs. Co-conspirator

75 things white people can do for racial justice

Anti-Racism Resources

I Have Not Missed the Amy Coopers of the World

No need to respond to me. Just please…do something.

In solidarity,

Erika

Marco T. Lindsey: Thoughts from your Black colleague

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Marco Lindsey, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Berkeley Haas, shared this letter with colleagues.

Colleagues,

I’m writing this now, but to be honest, I really don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to write, I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to work, I don’t want to socialize.

Many of you have reached out to me personally, and I appreciate it. I do. I just feel like shit right now. I find myself crying often, and I haven’t cried outside of a funeral in many years.

Because I am a community activist, I am receiving numerous requests to speak to our community and our youth in Oakland on what we should do next or how we should move forward. But I’m at a loss. I have no fucking idea on where we go from here. Voting seems like the most productive choice, but we’ve voted for a long time, and this problem has never subsided. And me casting a ballot in November does not make my son any safer today (or in November for that matter). Within the last week, even Black politicians have been assaulted and arrested while PEACEFULLY protesting…

There’s social unrest happening in our country. And whatever side you are on regarding looting and/or protests, what’s happening is that people are fed up, disgusted, tired, hurt, afraid, angry, and in mourning.

If you read no further, understand this. Black Lives Matter = if anyone kills a Black person, their punishment should be the same as if they killed someone from any other race. 

No matter if they are White, Black, or Blue. If anyone kills a Black person, they should be arrested, tried and convicted of murder. We don’t hold the false belief that murders amongst humans will stop. If you read the bible, when there were only 4 people on earth (Adam, Even, Cain and Abel), a murder occurred. We live in a cruel world. The request is that when someone Black is killed, the murderer gets treated the same no matter their job, race, gender or nationality.

This is what people are protesting. This is what people are upset about. A quarterback attempted to peacefully protest this by taking a knee, and he was black listed (it’s unfortunate that so many negative connotations are associated with the word “black), called an SOB by the president, and called disrespectful to our flag/nation by many of our fellow Americans. People… Black people are at our wits end because we have no idea what to do to fix this.

There was a time when I was afraid for my life as a Black man. But that fear subsided when I became a father. Because now, for the rest of my life, I live with the fear of my children being murdered by someone from an over-represented group, without consequence. I live with this burden daily. Daily.

The true problem with the recent videos of Black people being slayed is that there are thousands of others who experience the same fate, but because they aren’t recorded, you’ll hear nothing about it. Even George Floyd’s “official” report from the police says that heart disease and “potential intoxicants” in his system played a part in his death. So many people who look like me are dying REGULARLY by those who are sworn to serve and protect us, and it goes unnoticed except by the fatherless children and broken families left behind.

I don’t have faith that we will see a change in my lifetime. I was alive to see Rodney King viciously beaten and have the officers deemed not guilty. That was almost 30 years ago and we are still watching Black men and women be assaulted and killed on camera by the people meant to protect them.

I am sending this to you because I think of you as a friend, but feel free to share (if you didn’t receive this directly from me, please charge it to my mind and not my heart, as I am not remembering or thinking straight much these days). But many times it’s easier to deal with these tragedies because the Black man killed is a stranger. But you know me. As hard as it may be to do, imagine me on the ground, handcuffed, begging for my mother (her name is Dorothy Louise) while an officer has his knee on my neck until I stopped breathing. Until I was dead. I need this to hit home because it not hitting home for so many people is the reason it continues. I need you to think of me lying there dead. Because when I saw this video (like too many others), I see my sons. I see my sons…

In my current state, I won’t and can’t ask much of you. But I do have simple requests.

Talk to your children about anti-Blackness. As a father I know that we want to keep them innocent and naive for as long as we can. But unfortunately they are bombarded with anti-blackness in cartoons, the media, at school, at the park, while shopping and online. Whether you notice it or not, it is embedded in our society. This is why so often you will hear of someone who committed heinous acts, and their parent’s saying that they didn’t raise them like that, or that they don’t know where they got that from. The world is teaching our children lessons that we may not condone. And You have the power to combat this but you have to be intentional. Because while I have very little hope that a change will come in my lifetime, I do pray that future generations get it right. But it starts with us doing something now.

My second request is that if you see a Black person being treated unjustly, speak up. Whether it is by a store clerk, a fellow citizen, a peace officer, or any public official, please say something. Your silence is your approval of negative actions. I get it. Not everyone is an extrovert, and many times we want to just mind our business. But we all would want someone to speak up on our behalf (or our family’s behalf) if we were on the receiving end of mistreatment. Be that someone.

Lastly, I’ll say get involved. I can’t dictate to you what that looks like, but it can be anything from writing an email to public officials, sharing a social media post, learning more about anti-Blackness, being an active ally at a rally, donating, or just sharing this message. But do something. Please don’t sit idly by while I am being murdered.  Make no mistake about it. I am dying.

Marco

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