Local Businesses Stand Up for Racial Equity

October 25, 2016 | Civic Engagement, Overcoming Bias

Yes, there is something we can do!

Like so many people, I’ve watched helplessly as yet another community reels from another police shooting of an unarmed citizen. It’s frustrating, I know, to have no idea how to make a meaningful difference in the face of such a complex problem.

So I was thrilled to collaborate with our good friends at Foster Made and develop a plan – Businesses for Black Lives (#B4BL) — to help the business community support racial equity in a positive and impactful way.

On November 9, TMI will join Foster Made and many more concerned enterprises from Richmond and around the globe to raise awareness of, and find solutions to, police brutality. This will be the first of many steps we take to identify measurable solutions. Together we will participate in a business disrupt, where companies will have the option to close for the day and/or display the #B4BL poster in their windows.

Interrupting business as usual is the most appropriate response I can imagine to a social ill that far too frequently devastates the lives of civilians and police alike. So many of us recognize and care about the toll that police shootings take on communities, and we’re prepared to pitch in and work toward a remedy.

The #B4BL initiative reminds us that there really is so much we can do to help prevent these kinds of tragedies. We can organize to create solutions together. And we can also take steps as individuals to defuse the very human impulses behind so many regrettable actions.

We all have different switches that we unconsciously flip when we’re confronted by people and situations that are strange to us. These switches, part of our basic wiring, fill in the blanks when circumstances demand that we make quick assessments and react accordingly with limited information. If flawed snap judgments so easily vex us all, just think about what a burden they must be to law enforcement officers and anybody else who must frequently act with urgency and decisiveness.

In our new book, Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences, Matthew Freeman and I create a comfortable zone in which you can understand how you – like everybody else – are inclined to make snap judgments about folks you don’t know.

The good news is that we can familiarize ourselves with this very natural mechanism and teach ourselves how to override it with sound and conscious thought.

In Overcoming Bias, I unpack the ways in which I’ve struggled with my own bias against entire groups of people and how I was able to move beyond my prejudice to discover a wonderful world of fabulous people. Matthew and I share our personal stories of breaking down boundaries and offer easy and fun activities to help you manage your own internal switches and create a more rewarding and positive experience of the universe around you.

When the headlines seem to offer us nothing but more reasons for despair, consider all of the ways we can collectively and individually create the change we desire.

Please join us on November 9 to be counted as an ally in the movement to rid our communities of needless violence.

To learn more about #B4BL and how you can get involved, please visit www.b4bl.com.