As I have watched events unfold over the past few weeks in response to the murder of George Floyd and other victims of racism, the question I found myself repeatedly asking is, “what can I do personally to make a difference?”
I am not a black man and therefore cannot truly understand the experience of being black in America. I do know, however, that as a citizen of a nation founded on the idea that “all men are created equal,” I have a moral obligation to stand up against racism, injustice and intolerance.
These are global issues that have plagued civilizations and peoples for centuries and, sadly, will continue to do so. In our own country various groups have suffered at the hands of racists and their actions throughout our history, but none have suffered as long and often as violently as Black Americans.
The Black Lives Matter movement is forcing us to address an issue that for too long has been pushed back under the rug every time it attempts to raise its ugly head. We must take this moment in history to set an example for our children and for those around the world by joining those who are part of this movement in saying, “Enough Is Enough.”
Of course it is easy to get on social media or any other platform and speak out against racism and intolerance, but true change requires more than talk.
True change requires action.
Changes we are making at Edible
That’s why at Edible we are taking a hard look at what we can do at home, in the office and within our community to make the changes we need to do our part in fighting racism.
Those changes include the following:
- We are encouraging and welcoming open discussion within the organization no matter how difficult by setting up employee town halls, one-on-one counseling sessions and making a therapy hotline available to all staff.
- While we are proud that we have been able to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity within our company and our franchise network, we are creating a leadership position and giving that person the budget and other resources needed to take a top-to-bottom look at our operations and our processes in order to identify ways we can become even more inclusive.
- We will no longer shy away from addressing social issues in our marketing and messaging. If we are to live up to our mission of filling the world with goodness and our promise of truly serving our communities, we can no longer remain quiet about issues that affect our families, our employees and our customers. We must address these issues front and center.
- Our leadership will be seeking opportunities within the local business community and national business organizations to participate in helping eliminate or change many of the laws and practices that have led us to this point in our history.
And that is just the start.
We can make change happen
As an immigrant whose family moved to America so they and their children could pursue the American Dream, I have been blessed. I was given the opportunity to pursue my dreams and was helped by many caring and nurturing people along the way.
Yet as a I see the hurt, the pain and the anger among our fellow citizens I am reminded that many of the opportunities and experiences that I have been able to enjoy have not been available to our own citizens. Many Americans — in many cases our own neighbors — have become trapped in system that has exploited and perpetuated racism for generations.
Bringing this to an end will not be easy, and it may well take generations. But I am confident that we can do it. We have a history coming together in times of crisis as we have seen recently in our response to COVID-19.
Imagine how quickly life would change for the better if the world attacked every problem — disease, poverty, social issues — with the same intensity and focus with which we have attacked COVID-19. Racism can be just as deadly for its victims so why should we not attack this cancer on our society with an equal singleness of purpose.
This is change that requires personal self-reflection and a new way of thinking.
It requires us to be willing to stand up to injustice on a personal level.
It asks us to take a hard look at ourselves and say, “where have I fallen short, and what can I do to make a difference?”
It demands that we not go back to the way things have always been, even as things begin to return to normal.