I have been trying to find the right words to share with you in light of recent events involving Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Mr. Christian Cooper, Ms. Breonna Taylor – which particularly hits home as a native female Kentuckian- and now, Mr. George Floyd. Admittedly, I had to reach out to my own Firm Diversity Partner, mentor, and friend, Dawn Rosemond, for guidance as I questioned whether I could say anything helpful given how deeply and personally affected and traumatized I have been and remain by all of the current events. These feelings have only been even more inflamed with the recent violence and destruction of our city’s core, including my professional work home.
As an African-American woman, as a black mother of black sons married to a black man, and as a recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion champion for the last two decades, I am currently overwhelmed with emotions that vacillate from terror to anger to despair and hopelessness. But, I am also the President of this organization and recognize that there is no better time to lead by example in order to do what I can to support you, our members and this fine organization, to help us move forward in the best way possible to live and breathe our mission of providing a local, statewide, and even a national landscape, that is “equally inclusive to all.”
Please let me be clear – I have no answers or magic words to fix the frustration, fear, and/or paralysis many of you are likely feeling. Believe me, if I did I would use them on myself; I certainly need them. But, I will say this.
To our African-American and other diverse members struggling to make sense of this current state of our union, please know that you are seen and valued in this organization. To the myriad of allies, including our diverse and non-diverse male allies, who are hurting as well and trying to figure out what to do and say, please know that you just taking the time to care, to reach out, to check in with those you know are suffering means more than you could ever imagine. Finally, for those struggling to understand just what’s going on at all and why recent events even matter beyond the norm, know that is okay too. It has to be if we are serious about fostering true inclusion in this organization. We must meet each other where we currently are. I simply ask that you err on the side of compassion, humanity, and empathy for others while on your journey of understanding.
Finally, for those asking "what can I do"? Particularly for our non-diverse colleagues and peers who simply do not know what they can do in these uncertain times. I would advise you to implement the same takeaways learned by our Women & Hi Tech Board at the two-day “Interrupting Racism for Our Children” training that we attended earlier this year – use your voice, publicly and privately, to diminish fear and misinformation with knowledge, history, and empathy. Have the uncomfortable and challenging conversations with your children, your family, and those with whom you have influence, including those you know to not agree with equity and inclusion of all people. In the hearts and minds of those with privilege and power is where true change lies.
To that end, below are some local and national resources on allyship best practices. We hope these provide some value to help us all move forward in our journey of being the most inclusive organization, city, state, and country we know we can be.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. My heart and prayers are with you and all of those affected by the recent events in this country and our city. We are #INthistogether. I appreciate you!
Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
President, Women & Hi Tech
- Over Coming Bias by Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman
- Lead Like An Ally by Julie Kratz
- Race Matters by Cornel West
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Training and Other Resources: