There was a big message on the field at the Super Bowl. Every other view of the end zone contained the words “End Racism.” Yes, they had the Black National Anthem and a Black female half time performance, but those words in the end zone rang louder than any performance. Even though there are daily reminders that our country has a long way to go, it still felt good to see it acknowledged on the world’s stage. But what does “end racism” mean?
Before we get started, let’s hear from some experts on the matter:
“When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us.”– Ava DuVernay, American filmmaker and former film publicist
“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.”– John Lewis, American politician, civil rights activist, United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”– Martin Luther King, Jr., American Baptist minister and activist, one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”– Ola Joseph, Nigerian-born speaker, author, trainer, consultant, and United States Navy veteran
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”– Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican bishop and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist
Black History Month
As an official member of the “creative dedicated minority,” the thought of showing up in the name of Black History Month always causes me to pause. Do I use my platform for fluff about the many “firsts” from my race? Or do I show up authentically and lead with activism?
2023 is the year of “Transparency” for me. Specifically, how do I create more transparency for our clients, myself, and my loved ones? The goal of this blog is to take an opportunity to inspire compassion and respect for our shared history as Americans.
Transparency is one of Gladiator’s core values, which is how I arrived at turning this opportunity to address Gladiator’s audience for Black History Month into a conversation about our company values. This also led me to think about how the application of transparency, and the rest of Gladiator’s core values, could help achieve a change-oriented goal. What follows below is an in depth look at Gladiator’s six core values and how their application could help with further reducing or completely eliminating racism.
But before we get to that, let’s get some perspective on Black History Month from the great minds, both past and present.
“Won’t it be wonderful when Black History and Native American History and Jewish History and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.”– Maya Angelou, American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist
“We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.”– Yvette Clarke, American politician serving as the U.S. representative for New York’s 9th congressional district
“Black History isn’t a separate history. This is all of our history, this is American History, and we need to understand that. It has such an impact on kids and their values and how they view black people.”– Karyn Parsons, American actress, author and comedian. She is best known for her role as Hilary Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
“History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.”– Malcolm X, American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a prominent figure during the civil rights movement
No Random Acts of Marketing.
Just as strategy is ingrained in the very fabric of our transformational Fractional CMO work, the work to change the minds, hearts, actions, and policy in our country will take intentional, creative, and long-term action powered by people like you and me.
“Have a vision. Be demanding.”– Colin Powell, American politician, statesman, diplomat, and United States Army officer who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State from 2001-2005. He was the first African-American Secretary of State.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”– Barack Obama
“Have a vision of excellence, a dream of success, and work like hell.”– Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, political scientist, professor, author, administrator, human rights activist, civil servant, and first African-American faculty member at Duke University
We assess, plan, and act to leave businesses better than when we found them.
Ending racism will require so many of us to adopt this mentality as we show up in our communities, workplaces, schools, and families. We must meticulously curate our social, economic, and political footprints to make sure that we are being the change that we want to see. If you see problems that fellow humans are undergoing, don’t contribute to them – instead try to be a part of the solution.
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”– Barack Obama, American retired politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was the first African-American president of the United States
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”– Angela Y. Davis, American political activist, philosopher, academic, and author
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”– Booker T. Washington, American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States
We provide tools and resources for success.
A major driver of racism is access to resources and opportunities. “Help” can be perceived as a hand out, but “empowerment” gives people the ability to decide their own fate. How can you share what you have or know to create an opportunity for your neighbor? Is there a candidate for a role that is just under your qualifications with an outstanding cover letter? There is so much talent that started five paces behind the start line of their peers. Interview them…you might find your next shining star.
“No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.”– Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, poet, social activist, first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1982), “The Color Purple”
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”– Nelson Mandela, South African anti-apartheid activist and politician who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994-1999
We take pride in accomplishing goals together.
As I said before, bringing about change in our great nation is going to require not only unprecedented individual action but concerted, strategic effort as a whole.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”– African Proverb
“Give light and people will find a way.”– Ella Baker, Civil Rights and Human Rights Activist
“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”– Kenyan Proverb
We communicate openly to build strong relationships.
Ending racism will require some brave conversations around how our shared past impacts our present in order to alter the trajectory of our future. In doing so, we will shed light on the experiences of our fellow Americans that are hidden, disregarded and neglected in pursuit of inclusion and equity.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”– James Baldwin, African American writer, public figure and orator during the Civil Rights movement in the United States
“Truth is powerful and it prevails.”– Sojourner Truth, American abolitionist of New York Dutch heritage and a women’s rights activist
“Character is power.”– Booker T. Washington, African American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States
We dynamically adapt to consistently grow and improve.
As we face the many shortcomings in ourselves, our community, and the systems that drive oppression in this country, we must do so with hope and perseverance. We must take the time to mourn every life lost. We must measure and celebrate progress. We must look within. We must look ahead and when we are ready, we must find action again.
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”– Dr. Mae Jemison, African American engineer, physician, former NASA astronaut and first black woman to travel into space
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”– Michael Jordan, American businessman and former professional basketball player
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”– Maya Angelou, African American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist
“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.”– Michelle Obama, American attorney and author who served as the first African American First Lady of the United States from 2009-2017
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gladiator is committed to leaving the people, places, and processes that we touch better off than before we began working with them. It’s also important to us that we show up and create better work environments for marketers, help business leaders win, and push every brand story to its full potential to move and inspire. This is not just the ethos of the company I work for – I carry these principles into my life and community. As Black History Month comes to an end, I hope you are inspired to see your community in a new light and to be aware of your impact. Make sure you lead with love, compassion, and transparency.