(OPINION) – The events of the last few weeks have been eye opening for millions of people around the world. And as many within the African American community are again reminded of the challenges we encounter with law enforcement — and society as a whole — many people and companies outside of our community are becoming enlightened to the realities Black Americans face every day.
This “moral awakening” has been felt in nearly every corner of our society. Thoughtful leaders in areas such as politics, business, healthcare, technology, education and more are recognizing that America has had structural and systemic barriers in place that have created disparities that have negatively impacted the African American community for generations. We applaud them.
Now, as the conversation begins to shift from “statements” to substance, the question is what actions can leaders take in supporting this movement?
Some institutions have words such as “diversity” and “inclusion” in their mission statements, however, they struggle with fulfilling such objectives.
Internally, there are efforts you can make to appropriately invest in the community. Diversify your board or executive leadership; hire more Blacks; partner with Black youth organizations to develop a pipeline of future employees; mentor existing Black staff to move up the management chain; listen to your Black staff when they call out racist behavior; hire Black contractors; examine your procurement and make goals for improving your spend with Black businesses. This is just a start.
Externally, one area that matters to the Black community is the messaging that a company uses to communicate with them. Even more important is the messenger. Many organizations utilize mainstream media to illustrate their messages. While it is important to share such messages with mainstream audiences, the idea that those same messages resonate with the African American community is false. In fact, reports have shown that a large majority of African Americans respond positively to media messages and messengers that are emotionally and culturally connected to their community.
Utilizing Black-owned media is a must. The Black Press was the nation’s first Black business, starting in 1827 — 38 years before the end of slavery. It is one of the most important institutions that exists in the Black community, and it is woefully underutilized. Does your company or workplace advertise in Black-owned media? If not, this is the time to change that. Few things go farther than investing in media outlets that help educate and empower the Black community.
Since 1962, The Sacramento OBSERVER has both observed and inspired the Capital City’s African American community through our publications and media outlets. Black lives have always mattered to us. Our publication matters to Blacks. We hope that matters to you too.
By Larry Lee | OBSERVER President & Publisher