While many businesses are over-corporatizing their language or diluting it so much it becomes bland, I want to leave a post here that is abundantly clear: Black Lives Matter.
When coaching people on building their personal brand, I often suggest that they steer clear of anything controversial unless they are absolutely certain that they don’t want to work with anyone who feels differently. For me, this is one of those times.
If you don’t understand the depth of those words or you’re somehow offended by people stating that line, you are the one who needs to listen right now. Stop lashing out on Facebook, chiming in that “all lives matter,” or complaining about protests.
If you don’t believe that racism exists in this country, then I’m not sure what other evidence you need. The data is readily available, the stories are there for those who have the courage to read them, the videos can be watched and conclusions can be drawn on your own, and the laws that have created a broken system can be pinpointed and analyzed. Past presidents from both sides of the aisle have acknowledged a broken system. More people are telling you that it exists than pretending that it doesn’t.
Encourage Uncomfortable Conversations
It breaks my heart to hear that Facebook Groups are deleting posts regarding the systematic racism and ongoing hurt and pain going on in our country. At a time when many people are getting their news from social media, it is our responsibility as group admins to encourage this sort of conversation.
Yes, you have to look at the purpose of your group and evaluate whether the phrased question/comment is relevant for the audience. But a group about being a mother and a business owner shouldn’t pretend as if racism doesn’t affect both. It is not our job as group admins to censor things that we don’t understand. It’s our role to ensure there’s a safe space to have the conversation.
A group created with the intention of supporting local restaurants should allow posts that ask about black-owned businesses so that they can be supported. Explain why follow up questions or comments about “white-owned” businesses aren’t appropriate. It’s uncomfortable but it’s the conversation that we need to have right now.
Act and respond under the assumption that someone doesn’t know any better. Unless it’s clearly offensive, don’t delete the comment.
Use the comment or question as a teaching opportunity. If it violates the rules of your group, let them know and either block them from the group or give them a warning.
Ensure Diversity in Your Business
We’ve been taught to ignore race. To pretend it doesn’t exist. But that’s one reason why the inequality in our country has been largely ignored.
If you believe you “don’t see color” then please take a look at your employees and vendors. When you requested to work with them, did you ensure there was a diverse set of candidates? What about your marketing images? Do you have men and women from all different races in your material?
Now is the perfect time to do some deep self-reflection and determine actionable steps that we can take to create change in our society. Be a part of the solution by encouraging real conversation in your Facebook group, ensuring a diverse set of candidates for any job posting or vendor opportunity, and be aware of the images you use on your website or beyond. These may sound like small efforts, but they’re actionable steps that anyone can take. And this is just the beginning.