Episode 24: Our Personal and Professional Responsibility to Fight Hate
I've attempted several times in the past week to record this podcast. I didn't feel 100% about it because it's felt weird to simply discuss business and books as usual after seeing the events that happened in Charlottesville, VA. In the last week I’ve gone through a range of emotions: disbelief, frustration, anger, and now resolute. I am more determined than ever to fight hate and be a light. Not only will I not tolerate the hate and divisiveness in our country but I will continue to shine by supporting initiatives, publications, organizations, and content that work to rid our country of this foolishness and highlight the power of justice and inclusion. Before you listen to this podcast, I hope we are aligned on these 2 things: 1. Hate has no place. 2. Hate is nothing new under the sun. It's just been given a stronger voice by silence (i.e. tolerance) and emboldened by people like Donald Trump. Today I’m going to share a few of my thoughts on personal and professional responsibility here on the View112 podcast.
Like I said its been a long week. I've gone through a a multitude of feelings and thoughts about how I wanted to proceed with this particular episode. I have always viewed myself as a positive, progressive person and I wanted to be forward thinking in my sharing my thoughts and actions this week. Before I begin, I wanted to give you an update: ya girl finally passed this math class! Yaassssss! I am so close to the finish line so keep thinking of me and keeping your encouragement going. Thank you! Last weekend as I was working on my math final exam, I watched CNN disturbed. I live in the state of Virginia and its been shocking to see such evil happening literally in my state. While I am not naive to the fact that racism and bigotry still exists in our county, I've foolishly allowed myself to pretend in some ways that these things only really happen in the Deep South or something. As I get into this, I will share with you how I've discovered that not only have I been a bit simple minded in believing this hate exists elsewhere, but that I have work to do to fight it right here in my own backyard. In light of all that's happened, I think its interesting that the business community has been highlighted for having a strong moral compass than usual. This really got me thinking about what I can do and encourage you to do from a personal and professional standpoint to not tolerate and fight this foolishness.
1. Speak out. It is literally the least you can do. I have 2 thoughts on this. First, silence is compliance. If you witness hate or injustice and say nothing you are compliant. When you say nothing you are actually tolerating this mess. It does not matter if you are not being directly impacted or if the targeted demographic is not one you are a part of. Dr. Martin Luther King put it perfectly "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." If you think that people who are targeting a specific group of people don't have it in them to target a different group of people, you are mistaken. My second thought on speaking out is to ensure you are diversifying your audience. The day after the election is the day I learned that there were 2 different conversations happening in this country. I learned then that just posting things on social media and making sure my friends knew to vote and all was simply not enough. I didn't find out until post election that I knew people who actually did not vote or people who did vote for Donald Trump. These people were very quiet during the entire election process. All of these people who were saying they were "undecided" were clearly decided, they just knew it would be unpopular to state their intentions. Additionally there are a lot of young people in this country who have given up on politics and don't believe the political process is apart of helping them exact the change they wish to see. So while I was speaking up, I was to the wrong audience. Sadly, I was preaching to the choir. I've heard this many times in church that telling only people in church about the goodness of Jesus is not going to save more lives. You have to open the doors of the church to everyone and you have to go out into the world. We have to go out and speak out in other places.
2. Educate yourself. I mentioned how foolish I was for being surprised that white supremacists where prominent and active so close to where I live. I was foolish and uneducated. My company announced that it would make donations to human rights organizations, one of them being the Southern Poverty Law Center. I had not heard of this organization and decided to do some research. Not only is this organization quite progressive in fighting hate, I learned a lot from being on their website alone. I learned that there are at least 42 hate groups just in my state of Virginia. 11 of them are within a 20 mile radius of where I live. Some of them are disguised behind names and companies. They don't all say the KKK or We Hate. They are titled things like National Policy Institute, Washington Summit Publishers, and Center for Perpetual Diversity and Virginia Publishing Company. So of course I hate when people make generalizations about black people. (you know, how Donald Trump thinks we all live in inner cities and are poor?) Well I've been generalizing racists and white supremacists too. I thought they were all poor, proud red necks living in the middle of America somewhere. But nope. Turns out that many of these hate organizations are targeting young, college educated men. Turns out white supremacists are also working and thriving right here in Virginia commuting to work in the same traffic as me, shopping with their wives at the grocery store with me, and probably at the next pump over at the gas station. One of the benefits of educating yourself is to ensure that your efforts are not working against you. Case in point: PayPal. PayPal already had an Acceptable Use Policy which banned the promotion of hate and violence etc. saying they would not support account users who did this. Now, did they have a policy in place to police it? Doesn't seem like it. It wasn't until they found out that their service played an integral role in funding the hate that we saw in Charlottesville, VA that they removed these accounts and sent out a statement. I am glad PayPal took action, but let us all learn a lesson that to simply say something is of value to us is not good enough. We must also have things in place in ensure our values or not compromised. Hate comes in all shapes and forms and the methods to perpetuate hate also come in different ways. If you are unclear about a particular organization, please educate yourself (not just listen to news commentators or your friends) on what organizations are about and what they are doing. One other thing that really irritates me is when people say that the Black Lives Matter organization is a hate group. Their demand is simple: stop killing Black people. That's it. Do the research for yourself and to those people out there that are saying Black Lives Matter is a hate group. Stop it.
3. Allocate Resources. We cannot wait around for other people (politicians, companies, etc) to do the work WE want to see done. We've got to put ourselves on. Once you've educated yourself, you need to mobilize your resources (money and time) toward organizations, initiatives, and politicians that are working toward the change you wish you see. I've said this time and again, to be the light. For every dark deed or moment we can bring the light. For me, I am donating money to the SPLC along with my company. I love the work they are doing. Now that I know one of the hate groups is a publishing house, I'm even more amped up to support publishing houses and literature that promotes diversity and inclusion. I decided a few weeks back that I wanted to purchase and donate copies of the book The Hate U Give by by Angie Thomas. This YA book follows the journey of a young person turned activist when an unarmed friend is killed by police. Finally, I know I can force change mostly on a local level by connecting with my state and local government officials. I have downloaded the Countable App and the Arlington County Government App to keep better track of what's happening on a state and local level. Not just national news with the current WH administration.
Those are my thoughts, ideas, actions. Let me know yours. Did I miss anything? Is there an organization you want me to know about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org