The shooting of Jacob Blake has been added to the long list of black men whose lives have been marginalized or worst loss, due to the systemic racism prevalent in our judicial system. As those injustices continue to occur without regard or fear of consequences on the nightly news, America is grappling with how to navigate the hidden and now exposed impact of inequality. The frivolous justification that “well he had a record, or he was in the system” further signifies our discomfort with the owning that there is indeed a problem.
Corporate America (meaning all entities of employment) has taken a stance, promoting a position of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as indicated by the public statements and the number of Black Women being promoted into newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion roles, to lead the corporate agenda. I salute each of those corporations and the individuals stepping into the most challenging role in todays climate.
BUT – what about black men? Are we creating an environment where Black Men can thrive, where their value is recognized and where they can pursue career advancement without the enhanced requirements unconsciously placed on them? Black Men bring a wealth of knowledge, talent and a unique perspective to any situation and when “seen” are a critical part of any team.
We celebrate Black Men for their athleticism, musical talent, comic relief and entertaining capabilities on the big screen while simultaneously targeting them as person’s to be feared, brutalized, and extinguished.
Are organizations willing to take the next step and invest in their talented Black men, providing equal development opportunities (Coaching not skills-based training) to ensure that their black male employees have an equitable opportunity to excel and advance in their chosen profession? Are we willing to own that it is not just our judicial system, our healthcare system and our education systems that have systemic racism practices and admit that as corporations we find it easier to check the diversity box with a black woman (commonly referred to as a two-for because it fills the woman and minority box) and create a diverse culture that is inclusive of black men? Please note this is not to diminish the well deserve progression of Black women or any other diverse group!
In closing, as you sit with your anger of a Black man taking a knee for justice or refusing to entertain you in sports or movies, to grieve the injustice being done to our brethren – remember “see the man” and realize that “ Black Men are not for entertainment purposes only.”
Daphne B Latimore is the CEO and Managing Partner for DB Latimore Professional Services Group, LLC a Human Resources Professional Services Firm specializing in maximizing workforce productivity in both organizations and individuals. She is the founder of the Veracity Professional Men’s Summit – a space created for men at all levels to develop professionally with a network of professional men.