I have been too silent on the topic of racial inequities in America. I joined Genesys Works in early 2015 to do something about the opportunity gap in Minnesota between our white population and the populations of color.
The senseless murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers emphasizes the inextricable link between the work of Genesys Works and the systemic racism that is faced by the Black community. People say racial dynamics in America are complicated. While the history of racism is complex, the decision to oppose racism is not. There’s no excuse to stay silent or to not express feelings of anger, concern, and empathy.
This past weekend, I struggled with setting expectations to go back to work on Monday morning and trying to do “business as usual.” It wasn’t, and it can’t be. And, it’s prompting me to think more about what “business as usual” at Genesys Works can really mean.
- We must provide space for people to talk, to grieve, to listen, and to just sit. And for people of color, this also means providing the space to opt out when they’ve simply had too many “courageous conversations.”
- We must commit to ensuring an inclusive and open culture so that as racism persists in our culture, our organization can actively oppose it.
- We must continuously ask how Genesys Works can and should contribute to rebuilding the community. At Genesys Works, we sit at a unique intersection and have the ability to bring together business, education, and community to build equity and reduce disparities for our black and brown youth.
Action is needed now. For all of us community leaders – nonprofit, civic, private sector – addressing racial inequities and not being silent is an important first step. But the true test is doing more about it. And it’s the key measurement against which we should be judged.
Karen Marben, Executive Director, Genesys Works Twin Cities