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Tyre Nichols Calls Us to Action

I’m encouraged to see accountability. The police officers who kicked Mr. Nichols in the head, pepper-sprayed him and hit him repeatedly with a baton after pulling him over, even as he showed no signs of fighting back and the three members of the Fire Department — two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant. The department’s chief, Gina Sweat, said they “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment.” Were all fired, charged or otherwise relieved of duty.

Things are changing. Excruciatingly slow, but change nonetheless. Steps toward equity and full equality for Black people have historically been met with backlash. However, there is an awareness in the country. A sensitivity around the absurdity that one race is more worthy than another race. Not to say that white supremacy is not alive and well, as inequitable outcomes across all major facets of Black wellbeing bear witness to. But to say that more and more people are aware, support and expect equality, equity, and valuing diversity. Call it resolve, wokeness, or the disintegration of the countries’ founding mythology being replaced with actual history.

Equity, inclusion, equality and diversity are not flavor of the month initiatives. If your organizations hired, promoted & created DEI roles only to layoff, terminate, stop funding or otherwise engage in performative DEI actions, know that you are seen and its counterproductive and disrespectful.

No one wants to work for an organization that doesn’t respect their people. Creating, then dismantling DEI departments and jobs, just as years of police misconduct went unaddressed, creates trauma. It sends a message. We don't care. No real commitment or accountability for DEI in the business strategy and culture of the organization. That message feels painfully similar. It’s also an absurd long term strategy.

People are tired. Not just Black people; we've been tired. Now, more than ever we all have access to information that guts the myth of “not racist.” More and more we are considering “I am racist,” not because I choose it, but because I’ve been programmed to be. Just as we have all been shaped by racism more of us are choosing to do the work to be anti-racist. This is intentional, challenging, and the opportunity to be more of who we can be proud of in this world.

Leaders, there are more people to come. People who will stand up for equity, inclusion and equality. People who will see you and expect you to create cultures of inclusion and belonging. To have integrity and equitable outcomes in your business.

Take a look around. If all of your Black and Brown people are clustered in administrative or individual contributor roles and most of your leadership roles are held by white men, 6ft or taller, get some help. Incorporate DEI into your business strategies and goals. Create accountability for those goals. Just as this first step of accountability in the Tyre Nichols murder was necessary. Real DEI work is necessary.


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