I’ve been thinking all week about what I could say to you that would feel anywhere close to “appropriate.”
This week, we all saw global uprisings in response to police brutality and the cruel, unjust, and illegal killings of Ahmed Aubrey, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. It reminded us of all the countless black people who have been unjustly killed and treated as less-than for generations before them.
While the current Covid-19 pandemic is new territory for humanity, racism is, unfortunately, not new at all. It’s how this country was built. Just listen to this opening episode of The 1619 Project podcast to remember how Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence (and “all men are created equal”) from an inn while traveling with his personal slave.
My brother reminded me to find inspiration in the conversations I’ve had with members of this community.
I think about Bethann Hardison, one of the first black models to walk the runways of Europe in the ’70s. She could have followed the glamorous momentum she had as a model, but decided to switch careers and start her own agency, ushering black models like Tyson Beckford to mainstream fashion. She’s now a consultant for brands like Gucci, helping them set the standard for inclusivity in fashion.
I think about Jeff Gracer, one of the most genuine change-makers I’ve met who fights against climate change with the power of private sector action. At our “OK, Climate Change” event, Jeff spoke about watching Martin Luther King Jr. speak on television when he was a kid. He compared it to hearing God speak through him, bringing new meaning and purpose to Jeff’s life.
I think about AnjanSapasetty, the founder of Masq, who told me that it was OK to say, “I don’t know” and admit that I’m listening and learning alongside many of my white peers.
What I do know is that we need to do more than just promote “diversity” in our workplaces and lives. We need to break out of the echo chamber, talk to each other, listen, learn to value and trust each other, take action, and stand up for each other.
At CIRKEL, we are working to disrupt the “natural networks” we fall into. So, if our future world needs to work better for every human, who can you support within your extended network right now to make that happen? How can your personal circle become more diverse and dynamic? When the people in our “inner cirkels” have different experiences than our own, we all grow.
In solidarity and with love,
Charlotte and the CIRKEL team
P.S. Anjan sent this Google Doc with resources to understand the plight of black America and how we can do right by them today. I encourage you to check it out and take action in your own life.