Changing the Climate on Climate Change (a poem)

Our house is on fire

From this climate quagmire

Yes our house is on fire but more and more of us are inspired

And we’ll keep reaching higher until some of these bank CEOs are fired

We have less than 11 years but we will have no fear

Because we understand that the science couldn’t be more clear

And these banks are not as innocent as they seem to appear

As they defund climate change

We won’t shun moral outrage

You see we’ve done the work, we’ve followed the money

Financial companies putting Mother Earth on one knee

From Bank of America to Chase JP Morgan

These toxic investments are killing her organs

From the lowest to the highest funder of fossil fuel expansion

We will Chase through all types of distraction from taking real action

To understand this climate emergency

They must emerge and see that whether we’re talking tar sands in far lands

Or oil pipelines on indigenous sands

We can’t have a Dakota pipeline if it cuts off our lifelines

And for those who say it’s wrong to protest we say it’s the right time!

Because too many are silent which is being compliant

To continue to put people over profit?

It’s high time to stop it

We will stay on mission to cut these emissions

For every billion for fossil fuel expansion moving us closer to defeat

We’ll hit the streets with a billion voices and a billion feet

Until these companies confess that it’s best to divest

Every day we must put their commitments to the test

And we don’t care if we risk our careers or risk an arrest

Because if we don’t act now they’ll be nothing left

Because it’s not a loss to stop profiting from climate chaos

Put people and planet over profit and you’ll never have a financial loss

Because financial fossil fuel profits simply do not fit

A clean earth CEOs, don’t you want your grandkids to enjoy it?

Instead of having more and more fear let’s get more and more clear

Because we can take control and force companies to stop investing in coal

For our world’s peace of mind

We the undersigned are telling you that clean energy transformation leaves no one behind.

We’ve cried hundreds of tears

And our indigenous sisters and brothers have been saying this for hundreds of years

But today we stand arms locked with Standing Rock

And all these megabanks we’re demanding you stop

These banks that we’ve trusted with our life savings are destroying our lives

But we will make them ALL switch sides

Because a cleaner planet is the prize!


The 10 Antiracist Commandments (lyrics)

I been in this land for years, they see me as an animal

Time to end these racist lies, just read a manual

A step by step booklet for you to get

Time we learned how to be anti-racist

Dr. Kendi laid out the blueprint of how to do it

You wanna be an antiracist this is how you pursue it

Said it ain’t just good enough to say what you ain’t

You gotta do the work, box that hate out the paint

Start by checking yourself why you got those fears

Look at who’s been teaching you those racist ideas

White hate black, black hate white, black hate black

When it comes to being racist we should all step back

And check it all from how we police clothing and behavior

To how our system’s based off the need for a white savior

From power and body to class and biology

The racist roots of society is our biography

But it ain’t gotta be just because it’s how it was

We can’t keep the status quo just because

With our future on the line I believe that it’s time

To look in the mirror start to change our design

Rule nombre uno:

Gotta let people know

The racist views you hold

And how you plan to let em go

#2: here’s a good next move

Get a good reading list that challenges your views

#3: Never trust nobody

Who says they ain’t racist when actions speak loudly

#4: Know you heard this before

“Some of my best friends are black” don’t say that no more

#5: you don’t want racism to stay alive

Learn how it all started then make sure that it dies

#6: post-racial rhetoric, forget it

Think voting for Obama stopped racism, forget it

#7: this rule is so underrated

Understand why our neighborhoods are still segregated

’cause money and race don’t mix

Like Trump havin’ real ethics

Find yourself impeached real quick

#8: Never keep no hate in you

Exorcise it all costs maybe lose some friends too

#9 shoulda been number one to me

Know from day one we been a racist society

#10: a strong word called “alignment”

Get with like-minded people is your next assignment

Follow these rules your racism starts to shake up

If not, maybe hundred more years until we wake up!

The Case For Impeachment (updated lyrics)

We got a president that wants to be king

A media that obsesses on the pettiest things

A republican party that will do anything

That the President says man, he’s pulling their strings

Well he ain’t pullin mine I’ll say what’s on my mind

Cause some seem scared to charge Trump with high crimes

And misdemeanors, while his team ignores subpoenas

Fell in love with North Korea while our country’s getting meaner

A puppet of Putin, on that ain’t no disputin’

Helsinki press conference showed which flag Trump’s salutin’

His treasonous acts give us reason to act

Like the Oval Office meeting with Sergey Kislyak

Or not firing Conway for axing the Hatch Act

Or his support for Neo-Nazis and continued press attacks

And I beg your pardon, gotta talk about pardons

And how he sells us out from the White House Gardens

With his hourly lies more 12,000 times

Or how he sits with then hates on the New York Times

Or how he oversteps the law with legalese

And offers to pay violent supporter’s legal fees

If they attack a demonstrator, but he’s the real hater

And if you work for him and disagree? See ya later

Come on homey, Look at how he did Jim Comey

If that ain’t obstruction congress what’s your function?

And I think Bob Mueller made it pretty clear

About obstruction actions, y’all should have no fear

C’mon man, look at how he did Don McGhan

Or how to get noble prize nod, he calls on japan

If y’all would just give a damn it’s easy to understand

Need to reach Heather’s Heyer ground and save this land

And he’s guilty by association, check the cohort

Flynn, Cohen, Gates, Stone, and Paul Manafort

Stormy days on the horizon, or should I say Stormy Daniels

Americans lookin’ sad dog ears like cocker spaniels

Wasting our tax dollars, the man ain’t frugal

50 trips to Mar-a-Lago, payoffs to McDougal

He supports neo-nazis while so many will not see

His racist tendencies favor white supremacy

Says he’s the President who will bring law & order

But acts lawlessly just look at kids on the border

Trapped in cages, babies to teens of all ages

More dying by the month as this created crisis rages

And in DC can’t forget emolument’s clause

And how he profits from that office man, it’s time to pause

Cause anyone’s who’s sane gotta mention Ukraine

And that quid pro quo and withholding that aid

Where they gotta kiss the ring if they wanna get paid

To get that military help and their country saved

A Bill taylor-made case has been laid plain by dems

Add Volker, Vindman, Sondland, and them

The list goes on and on time to end this song

This man’s been driving the country down the drain for far too long

If he’s not impeached now we’ll be sending a message

That presidents are above the law they’ll be no vestige

Of a constitution set up to provide a solution

For corruption from the oval office institution

And they can Hunter Biden all they want the real hunt should be

For Trump’s taxes to see how he betrayed the country

Start with him then investigate the whole family

Cause we can’t let the Trumps become a dynasty

America if you’re listening hope you can find

The 30,000 reasons to impeach this guy

And if we really don’t impeach yo I gotta ask why

We didn’t vote y’all in office to watch the country die

I’m Black Before I’m A “Person of Color” Or “Minority.” Companies, Schools, & TV MUST See Me.

In my work over the past few decades in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I have always done my best to make sure that the language I use is respectful of all of the communities with whom I work. Now I don’t just throw out words just to please people. I do my research and combine my knowledge with how people feel they want to be identified. For years, I have used the term “people of color” in my writings, presentations, and speeches, but over the past year, I have grown uncomfortable with the term primarily because my experience as a black person in America are getting lost in that expression. Add the word “minority” to the conversation (a term I never use) and one can hopefully see how the black experience is being forgotten for the sake of overall diversity and inclusion.

Across multiple industries, we see “people of color” and “minorities” being used in literature. Companies often speak of how their numbers have increased in terms of “minority” representation but the numbers rarely match for African Americans and black people overall. For example, when some companies state that they have increased hiring of “minorities”, that could mean anyone from white women to Asian-born Indians and everyone in between. This was indeed the case with affirmative action, where research has shown that the majority of people who benefitted from it are actually white women. To be clear, I believe that all traditionally underrepresented groups in company spaces should have opportunities to have their numbers increased. What happens unfortunately too often is that after those numbers are met, there is no longer a need to reach out to the black community.

Relating back to “people of color,” all challenges affecting what I would call non-white people are not the same. For example, the many cases of police shootings of unarmed people is specifically an issue facing the black community. The preschool to prison pipeline is primarily a problem affecting black students. When comedian Shane Gillis was hired then fired from Saturday Night Live over his racist comments towards Asians, I read one tweet by an Asian activist who wrote that the term “chink is like the n-word for people of color.” History lesson: “people of color” are not called the “nigga” or “nigger.” BLACK PEOPLE are.

So today, when I hear “people of color,” it sounds too universal and I feel lost in it. I don’t besmirch people for using it, I just know how it makes me feel. I am a black person before I’m a person of color. Furthermore, using that term actually puts white people at the center, like a white piece of paper and then everyone else is colored in. Historically, white people were not the first to walk this earth. Black people were and so this also may subtly reinforce a white ethnocentric, even a white supremacist idea.

At the end of the day, if we are going to be serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have to be mindful to make sure we are being inclusive of all groups and their experiences. Truth be told, some companies get away with touting an increase in their black representation by hiring non-African American black people such as people from the Caribbean, the African continent, Europe, and elsewhere. This is also a discussion happening in our colleges and universities and even in Hollywood, as we have seen with the release of the movie Harriet. Personally, I am fine with an overall increase in black representation but if the intention is that African Americans come with too much baggage to employ, the real issue may be the stereotypes that employers have about African Americans that need to be challenged. Challenging our stereotypes and overall actions starts with companies doing a deep dive into their statistics and getting to root of what is behind the hiring process and I truly enjoy working with companies who are doing just that. If your company isn’t there, it’s time to get to work! Let’s go!

The Best Me (an affirmation)

Repeat (with passion)!

There can only be one me!

There was no me before me

There will be mo me after me

And since I’m the only me

That the world will see

I will be the BEST me

That I can be!

Global Soul (a poem)

They say the journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step

And they say never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes

Both scenarios are harder when you have no shoes

When you wake up wondering again just how you might lose

When you shake up thinking of how to pay school fees and dues

Yes, it can give you the blues and leave you confused

Trying to live your best muse and it feels like a ruse

Believing that world has abandoned you

But one day you wake up and realize you’re not alone

You realize others are fighting with you to save your home

You realize some have been on your side as you fight to end genocide

You realize that others want this mass atrocity to be an anomaly

You realize that there are more who want peace in schools and your streets

And sometimes it takes a preacher to see you through

And sometimes it takes a teacher to be with you

And sometimes it might take a Meyer…or two

But you must never forget that it all started with you

It’s sad that some see that basic human rights ain’t that basic

But we’re fighting with you to make sure the world ain’t complacent

For on the side of humanity, we’ll always be adjacent

Because even with no shoes we can walk to end genocide

With no boots we can help others hold their head with pride

If we listen closely we can Hear her Voice telling us that we must

That we must bear witness to the tragedies of the world before it turns to dust

We must do the work to save that boy or girl

And if they don’t hear us we need to cry out louder to the world!

Because a wise woman said that those who suffer need us to amplify their voices

And some of us with the megaphone need to make better choices

But here we’ve conspired to never retire

And rather than retire we just get rewired

We will never be overwhelmed

We will never be deterred

We will never be defeated if we stay inspired

To globally end all war to do even more for Darfur

To use permagardening to stop hearts permanently hardening

From the beautiful souls of the Virunga

To the powerful people known as Rohingya

Sometimes providing a little shelter can make someone’s life better

When we’re Syria-sly committed we can help refugees find refuge

Get them proper medical care and housing to survive the deluge

We build these homes so no one can hemorrhage hope

Because sometimes all you need to help is a small extension of rope

Because living your best life is only attainable

When your life is Sudan-ly sustainable

We know that few are guilty, but all are responsible

But in OUR hearts we hold the hope of what’s possible

And some may not understand why we do this work

And some may not understand why sometimes our hearts hurt

But we stand on the shoulders of those who don’t quit

We stand on the shoulders of those with true grit

We stand on the shoulders of those who walked so that we can fly

And for all of those reasons, we will not stand idly by!

Raise Hope for Congo (a poem)

The world’s richest country now the poorest

A chorus of women’s cries across a corrupted country in demise

International lies hide the truth of our turmoil

Raping our country of our women, tungsten, coltan, and gold

Young girls now a commodity no longer an oddity

Child soldiers watching bullets and not birds fly over their sky

So we can sit pretty with our play stations, laptops and iPhones

iRoam alone in Africa’s first world war starving a continent feeding the globe

Little babies dying so we can have a cell phone and warm home

An X-box, a TV, a computer, a flat screen

Flat lining the dreams of millions of Congolese

Never quite able to control their destiny

Mineral gifts turned to curses, body bags with no hearses

Babies bouncing from the womb to the tomb in a matter of minutes

But in a minute you can decide to help turn this tide

Raise your voice for the people, raise hope for the Congo

Turn your cell phone to a microphone and speak knowledge to your college

Tell these computer companies we need conflict free products

Realize you’re a fool if you don’t check the trail of those jewels

Diamonds and gold be the fuels to this fire

How can gold become a cancer?

I’m looking for an answer

In a land where diamonds are NOT a girl’s best friend

But together with the Congolese we can change this direction

If you decide to raise your conscience and each one teach one

Reach one in your grasp make an army of change

An army of conscious consumers and not soldiers for the same old

Sympathetic solutions for political and profitable prostitution

The true resolution is empowering our women

The center of our land must be made whole once again

The backbone of our nation must be realigned

When our women can stand proud our country we will once again have its spine

The heart of our future lies in our young girls

The pride of our lives lies in our young boys

Congo’s future lies in our hands if you’d just understand

That we’re all in this together

So let’s all raise hope and take a stand for our land

3 & 1/2 ways private & wealthier public schools can attract black teachers

For over a decade, I have worked with private, public, and charter schools across this nation on issues relating to diversity, culturally relevant instruction, and student leadership. The work I do takes different forms in different schools. In some schools, I am brought in to work with faculty on ways they can reach their more disenfranchised students. In other schools, I speak to students about their role in creating communities where everyone feels celebrated and not tolerated. Some schools seek a combination of work with both students and faculty. In all of the private schools and wealthier public schools I have visited, one glaring question always rears its head: where are the black teachers?

To be clear, I am specifically speaking about black classroom teachers who do not coach athletics, and I am not referring to building services such as security or custodial staff. Of course, there is no shade being thrown at either profession because all positions are of value when it comes to making a school function. I am speaking specifically to the dearth of black teachers in more privileged schools today. Below are three and ½ steps schools can take to start recruiting more black teachers.

  1. Go to where black teachers are.

While it is of course true that black people live in every state in the United States, it is obvious that more of us are concentrated in urban areas. Despite this fact, I still encounter schools in cities like Washington, DC and New York where I am told that it is hard to find black teachers. I do not believe this to be true. More effort needs to be placed in going to where black teachers are and recruiting them early. If you play a role in recruitment in your school, you should start partnering with schools of education and inquire about their black enrollment. If you are fortunate enough to have an Historically Black College & University (HBCU) in your vicinity, definitely reach out and conduct recruitment fairs on campus and invite potential teachers to visit your school. Well-intentioned recruitment efforts can go a long way for helping a teacher decide where to work.

In addition to partnering with these institutions, there are also events such as the Teacher of Color Recruitment Fair. Your leadership team should also attend conferences such as the People of Color Conference (POCC), The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) conference, and several others that can be found with a simple google search. At these conferences, you get to see many presentations by actual teachers and not only professional speakers/trainers such as myself. These organizations also have regional events and provide great opportunities for networking. As important as it is to attend events like these for the content, it is equally important to attend as a potential recruiter.

  1. Be bold in your diversity statements and practices surrounding diversity & inclusion

I am not saying that every black teacher cares about issues relating to diversity and inclusion. Some of course just want to come in and teach like they see their white counterparts do on a daily basis. I do know, however, that many black teachers doindeed care about where a school stands on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I know this because I have actually met black teachers in many of the schools I have visited over the last 15 years and this has been brought up nearly 100% of the time.

Like many black parents, many black teachers are also looking at school websites for statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are looking to see what progress has been made because they do not want to come to your school and instantly be “The diversity guy” or “The black guy.” These are the teachers who have all the troubled black students sent to him, usually is asked to speak to black parents (or at least be in the room for representation purposes), and are often made to feel like they have to “speak for the race” when racial issues arrive. This is an extremely stressful position for black teachers to be in, yet it happens all the time. Startingwith a diversity statement is a great way to start attracting the attention of black teachers, yet I am still amazed by the numbers of school that I visit who still do not have one.

  1. Use social media to recruit teachers

You cannot be at every recruitment fair every day. Many successful black teachers have a very active presence online, particularly through LinkedIn and Twitter, but on all major social media sites. They are not only posting thoughts about their school day, but they are also writing and sharing powerful content that will show you where their values are and demonstrate that they could be a good fit for your school. You can use the hashtag method to find educators that are writing and talking about the areas you are interested in such as #diversityandinclusion, #blackteachers, #blackeducators, etc. You never know. Some of these teachers can be right in your vicinity!

3.5 Treat your current black students as future teachers.

By this statement, I do not mean that you should look at your third-grade black students and start to actively recruit them. That would be…weird. What I amsaying is that many schools treat their black students so poorly that they never want to become teachers when they get older. I have generally met two types of black teachers. There is one group that teaches for the love of teaching. There is another group, however, that teaches for the love of teaching but alsosees their job as an actual mission to show black students that a teaching career is possible. They also want non-black students to see black people in positions of leadership and authority in the education space and go beyond the sports and music stereotypes they may have of black people.

In 2017, NPR reported on a study stating that having just one black teacherin a school can help keep black students stay in school. They report:

Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys’ probability of dropping out of high school by 39%…And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college. Keep in mind, this effect was observed seven to ten years after the experience of having just one black teacher.

Representation does indeed matter. It is also important to reiterate that seeing black people in positions of authority is also important for non-black students because it can help non-black students grow into adults for whom working with or for black people will not seem foreign to them. It can also counter the stereotypes that some members of non-black groups possess about black people, namely that black people are lazy and not intelligent.

At the end of the day, there is an old saying that you can’t just talk about it. You have to BE about it. You cannot expect black teachers to appear at your school through osmosis. You have to actively pursue them. I have met so many black teachers who do not see private and wealthier schools as an option because there is a perception that these schools are only interested in checking off boxes for diversity. If you honestly believe that your school strongly values diversity and inclusion, these steps will help you in your efforts to do just that in terms of increasing the presence of black teachers in your school. Let’s GO!



Beyond Kaepernick and Kneeling: Why JAY Z’s NFL Deal Could be Good for the Black Community

I was moved by the powerful article written by The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill entitled “Jay-Z Helped the NFL Banish Colin Kaepernick.” I felt that she captured multiple sides of the debate while firmly stating why she believes this deal with the NFL will be a bad look for JAY Z and many within the black community overall. While she made several points with which I agree, there are two main points that I would like to add to the conversation. The first is that Colin Kaepernick was banished from the league the first day he took that knee three years ago and not with JAY Z’s assistance. We just did not realize it yet. Secondly, JAY Z is right to ask the question about what the next actionable steps are beyond the kneeling and this could be a good way to get that conversation started.

Let me be clear about two points before I write any further. The first point is that I stopped watching the NFL years ago and I doubt it will ever gain me back as a fan. As a Boston native, I will never forget the night the New England Patriots won their first championship and I was driving through the streets of Kenmore Square with my brother Simba (pre-Lion King, thank you) hanging out of the moonroof high-fiving everyone in sight. I will never forget it because it was the most unified I ever saw Boston from a racial perspective. Despite my love for the game, I stopped watching before the kneeling occurred because before I realized how racist the league is, I realized how misogynistic it was after Ray Rice and so many others who received little to no penalties for domestic violence. Going home to my children every night, I could no longer justify how I could support a league that penalizes players more for abuse of drugs than abuse of their girlfriends, fiancées, and wives. The NFL could end its racism today and hire Kaepernick now and I would still not watch. It is also shameful how conversations about the NFL and its misogyny have disappeared from the headlines, but many victims are too used to that storyline.

The second point I must state is that I still support Colin Kaepernick’s activism 100%. What he did was bigger than the game and we can never forget the real issues he was fighting for, specifically the end of police misconduct. He was and still is fighting for my children and I will always hold a special place for him in my heart for that. Radio Hall of Fame personality Joe Madison often says that the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice. Kaepernick knew what he could be sacrificing by igniting this movement and that is why he will continue to have my respect. I have been critical of the fact that none of us who followed him know the content of his settlement with the NFL, but that is a personal decision that he made with his family and I respect that as well. The question that I would like to pose is: how long should Colin Kaepernick be the litmus test for determining progress between the NFL and the black community, particularly after he agreed to a settlement? Enter JAY Z.

Let us be clear about something. JAY Z is a businessman with an extremely keen sense of where the next trends are. He knows how to take advantage of opportunities. Former business partner and Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder said recently that JAY Z is the most opportunistic person he knows. Is that wrong, especially for a businessman? In his book Decoded, which I assign every semester for my American University class on JAY Z, he also made it clear that he left the drug world and entered the rap world because he wanted to make money. It was not about the art or the movement at the time. As he said in his song The Prelude:

I’m just a hustler described as a rapper

In fact, you can’t fit this hustle inside of a wrapper

While many were critical of JAY Z for rhymes like these and his original intentions with rap music, many of us have realized that we need to be more money and business focused if we want to really make strides in serious areas like closing the wealth gap, where it has been predicted that it would take 228 years for black people to close the wealth gap with white people. One of my favorite rappers is Talib Kweli, who is considered by some to be a “conscious” or “backpack” rapper. In an interview on the Karen Hunter Show, he stated that when he first started rapping, he just cared about the art but now that he has children going to college, he wished he paid more attention to the business side of things. This is what JAY Z has been encouraging us to do for years and this move with the NFL is a logical step in that direction…if it works out.

Similar to JAY Z ceasing his free promotion of the beverage Cristal, which he and the late Notorious B.I.G. made popular in their songs, I believe that JAY Z will sever ties with the NFL if he does not feel it is helping the black community. In an ideal world, I wish he did indeed have the blessing of Colin Kaepernick but Kaepernick has already received his money from the NFL with his settlement. Had he not received a settlement and was still fighting the NFL on that level; I would be more inclined to not support this deal between JAY Z and the NFL. As JAY Z said though, what are the actionable steps beyond the kneeling? The movement is supposed to be about social justice initiatives, right? My fear is that many of us who support Kaepernick would drop our issues with the NFL if he were allowed to lace up and play and ignore so many bigger issues. I am not speaking about serious activists like Jemele Hill or the three incredible women who founded Black Lives Matter (an organization that JAY Z has supported financially). I am referring to people who are social media act-as-ifs rather than activists.

At the end of the day, we in the black community have often supported institutions that once banished us. Once they made some effort towards equality, even in the smallest ways, we began to give them a chance, often at the expense of our own businesses and institutions . We still support some companies that still do not give a damn about us. Many of us received degrees from prestigious universities that were literally built by enslaved Africans and shunned Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We work and even become CEOs of companies that would never hire us before or sold us second-hand products. And many of us actively still listen to music and watch television and movies that depict us in the most negative ways (and yes, JAY Z admitted he has been part of that problem). When will the NFL get its chance at redemption? I may not be the best person to answer that question for reasons I have already stated but I do not believe that the answer to the question should be “When Kaepernick plays again.”

As someone who wrote a doctoral dissertation on JAY Z and who is writing a current book on him, I see JAY Z today as a Robinhood of sorts for the black community. He regrets his role in the deterioration of the black community through his drug dealing and some of the music and has been actively looking for ways to give back. He bails out fathers so they can be engaged in the lives of their children. He helpsbuild wells in African countries. He funds film projects to bring the stories of great leaders like Angela Davisand musicians like Fela Kutito a new generation of people. He funds scholarships for students from impoverished communities with “C” grade averages who otherwise would never have a chance to sit in classrooms like mine at American University, fights for prison reform, and so much more. And based off his lyrics from Izzo, “I’m overcharging n****s for what they did to the Cold Crush”, I believe he sees his partnerships with white run businesses like the NFL as a form of restitution. The aforementioned lyric in short is speaking about how black musicians have been underpaid and manipulated for centuries. He has worked to change that and has no problem getting rich in the process. Is he wrong for that? As he stated in Moment of Clarity:

I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them

So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win-win

Am I sharing these thoughts to absolve JAY Z? Of course not. I have been critical of some of his moves in my writings. What I am saying is that JAY Z deserves the benefit of the doubt for giving the opportunity for the NFL to put up or shut up with the world watching. Kaepernick did sacrifice his career to raise awareness about social justice. He, unfortunately, is not the first leader to not benefit from the movement he or she started, although he probably has benefitted more financially than other activists, given his contract with Nike and his settlement from the NFL. It is time to move forward and demand real action for those, unlike me, who have a desire to one day support the NFL again.


Workplace Issues Under Trump? Here are 3 ways To Handle It!

I have worked with both the Trump and Obama administrations during my career as a diversity & inclusion practitioner, so I have inside experience on how both administrations work. I have been critical of both administrations for different reasons. From corporations to schools, I have also worked with organizations dealing with the challenges the election of the first African American President brought them, which is a discussion for another day. The goal of this article is to provide some steps companies can take during the presidency of Donald Trump to deal with challenges related to diversity.

Whether you love or hate President Trump, we all know that he has been called by some the most divisive president in recent United States history. Whether you agree with that statement or not, one thing that we cannot disagree on is that since 2016, tensions have risen tremendously in the country in the form of an increase in hate crimes, an increase in tensions between non-white communities and law enforcement, and increased tensions in the workplace. More employees are experiencing tension because of what they are experiencing outside of work as well as on the job. Here are three steps companies can take to start to create a more productive work environment in a country that is only going to become more tense as we approach the 2020 election.

Create Free Spaces

There has been much written about the importance of organizations creating safe spaces, but there also needs to be free spaces where your employees can express themselves without being judged or develop a fear of reprisals. There should be a department or at the very least a representative of your company, not affiliated with HR, where employees can express themselves and their concerns about how the climate of the country (or your company) may be affecting their work performance. You can have employees who feel they are being targeted because of their race, religion, gender, or any other identifier that they feel singled out for. From the rich white male in your company to the Muslim middle-class female in your organization, anyone can feel marginalized at any time. They need spaces to speak their mind!

Create A Diversity Statement AND Diversity Trainings NOW Before…

…the crisis hits and a crisis will hit! I have encountered so many employees who have told me that they feel tolerated and not celebrated in their organizations because their jobs do not have a stated commitment to diversity. The idea of the diversity statement can indeed be controversial, but I believe that it is better to have and not need a statement than need and not have a statement. A diversity statement is a promise to everyone who walks through your door that your company is committed to hiring the best talent regardless of their background. In order to honor that promise, companies must engage in regular events and trainings focused on building a culturally competent work force in order to demonstrate that actions do indeed speak louder than words.

Remember That Silence Is Compliance

As I am writing this, the term #silenceiscompliance is trending in regards to frustrations with politicians not speaking up on some of the issues facing America today. Whether it is the situation with the flag and Colin Kaepernick or environmental issues such as the effects of straws in the environment, we now live in a society where consumers want their companies to take a stand, one way or the other. Even the candy company Skittles, had to issue a statement after the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. In this day and age, you do not want your company to be caught off guard by an issue that is quickly going viral. In the last year, Starbucks, Gucci, Macy’s, Home Depot, H&M, Sephora, Burberry, and so many other companies have found themselves the subject of backlash from issues such as racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. You want to make sure that your company is proactive in the face of controversy because the companies that are reactive tend to suffer the most criticism from the public (and stockholders by the way).

At the end of the day, we live in a society that is on the brink of something beautiful or on the brink of something disastrous. Your company should not wait to respond to issues regarding diversity and inclusion. I have not yet read a study saying that companies that are more diverse and celebrate its diversity are less profitable. Forbes, for example, reports that companies increase their revenue by as much as 19% when they embrace diversity. As the country becomes more diverse and the world becomes smaller, you owe it to your employees and your consumers to continually be ahead of the curve. As Dr. King stated, the time is always right to do right. If your company is strong in one or two of these areas, strengthen yourself in the third area. If your company is shaky in all three, there is no time like the present to fine tune your programs by working with experts in this area. If your company is proficient in all three, do not get comfortable, for as Zig Ziglar said, you can always better your best! Let’s GO!