03.3.2021 Emily Ryder
The following is a message that our Managing Partner, Michael DiMella, shared with the Charlesgate team on the racial injustice in America.
Dear Charlesgate Team,
In times like these, I think it is more important than ever to lean on our Cultural Values to guide us. Empathy is especially important right now:
EMPATHY. Seek first to understand the perspectives of others. Think about what you are doing FOR a client, customer, colleague, or partner instead of to that person. Listen more than you speak.
This is America. Land of the Free. Land of Opportunity. Unfortunately, it has become far too clear that America is not so free for many people of color. Good opportunities are truly lacking for many in the black community.
Racism exists. Whether overt action or systemic bias, we have all seen or heard about racism. But we have not all experienced racism. There’s a wide gulf between noticing and experiencing.
Unfortunately many, if not all, people in the black community have experienced racism. They have lived it. They can’t escape it. They can’t brush it off with wishful thinking.
I have neither the personal experience nor the emotional range to truly understand racism and its insidious impacts. I can’t possibly understand what it is like to feel that your life is in danger during an encounter with police. I can’t possibly understand what it is like to feel powerless and without access to opportunities – opportunities that I can so easily take for granted.
That makes it easy to brush off racism as if it did not exist.
But this is 2020. I must do better. We must do better. We can’t just sweep a 400-year history of racism in America away. We can’t ignore its impact anymore.
Things can and will change if we choose it.
We can start by listening, with empathy. Learn to understand the perspectives of people of color in our community.
We can start by paying closer attention. If you see racism, don’t accept it. Call it out.
We can start by taking action. Support the change and infrastructure reform needed to eliminate systemic racism.
Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a few bad people – one so-called “police officer” snuffing the life out of a handcuffed black man with his knee, four “police officers” firing 41 shots at an unarmed black man in the doorway of his own building, one “neighborhood security guard” shooting an unarmed black child wearing a hoodie, a small group of violent looters trying to ruin a powerful peaceful protest – to set back forward progress.
These instances should make us all very angry. More importantly, they should make us listen, understand the root cause, and act to be the change that will prevent these tragedies in the future.
I know there are far, far more good people of all races, cultures, and creeds that want to do the right thing. I know all of you want to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing.
It will not be easy. There will be setbacks. We won’t be able to rely on the government or leaders. But even small actions, done by enough good people consistently, can create substantial and lasting positive change leading to a fully equal society.
Charlesgate stands with the black community. We stand with the people of color on our team.
We are here to listen. One small action we will be taking is to create and fund a paid internship for a young person of color each summer. My hope is this program will help close some small piece of the opportunity gap in our community and be a starting point for more action as we listen and learn.
I also encourage every member of our team to help us all become more aware of initiatives for change and opportunities to take action and eliminate racism.
Each of us has the power to make a positive impact. Use it.