28 June 2020

Good Black Things

Did you ever notice how the English language describes dark things as worse? Think of 'whitelist' and 'blacklist', or how movies dealing with something bad or evil are called 'dark'. You know who noticed? Black people. Americans have been trying really hard to come up with a name for the descendants of African slaves. It has gone from negro, colored, or black, to African American, to another way of saying colored. But the most common name is still 'black', so all the negative imagery with blackness leaves some room for improvement. 

Explicitly racist language has mostly been removed (look up what Brazil nuts used to be called), and people are trying to come up with alternatives to the phrase 'blacklist' (we'll see what catches on). Honestly, it will take some work to change phrases. 

We all need to work on positive imagery associated with black skin, so here are a few examples of things that are great because they are black. 

14 June 2020

The George Floyd Protests

"Why are all rich people white?" That question came out of nowhere from an African-born teenager visiting my house years ago. "It's complicated," I said.

A majority of people in America want to see racial harmony. People want life outcomes to be based on the content of one's character and not the color of their skin. However, the life outcomes of black citizens in the United States tend to fare worse than those of its white citizens. The roots of this problem are not simple or easy to fix.

Watching the George Floyd protests I have been surprised at the positive response from the masses of white people. This week my company held a townhall phone meeting just to let people share their thoughts on race in America for an hour and a half. It was full of spontaneous personal testimonies and calls for empathy, awareness, justice, and inclusion. It was attended by 1,000 people, about a third of the company. 

The current conversation about race feels different than anything I've experienced in my life, and I think some positive change will come of it. I want to share some thoughts on this moment and I hope to cut through some of the meme-fueled anger and get into the nuance that doesn't fit onto protester signs.