After the brutal death of George Floyd, I fell silent. Even as business leaders and brands came forward, I still felt like I wasn’t ready to speak out.
I was ready to state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. My biggest concern was how to move from total inaction and silence on this issue to add our voice and deeds in a way that was meaningful and sustainable.
In a recent article, Ijeoma Oluo, speaker and author of the book So You Want to Talk About Race, put it this way: “Be wary of anything that allows you to do something that isn’t actually felt by people of color,” Oluo said. “I always ask myself when I’m trying to do solidarity work, can the people I’m in solidarity with actually feel this? Can they spend this? Can they eat this? Does this actually help them in any way? And if it doesn’t, let it go.”
It is incumbent on all of us to unite against racism and social injustice, and to make meaningful personal and systemic change. I am still wrestling with how to do something that is truly felt, but I am relying on our Six-Point values to guide this message as a starting point, and will be relying on them to guide where we go from here.
Value #1: Be passionately curious. I am a firm believer that an open mind, thoughtful questions, and deep listening can open you to radical change. If we can be curious about one another, curious about our own motivations and biases, and curious about what solutions might look like, we have what we need to change.
Six-Point will reimburse team members for reading materials and other media they purchase to educate themselves about racism and social justice.
Value #2: Say what you are thinking, with kindness. We need to speak up. Silence is violence, and it is also privilege.
Six-Point will be participating in antiracism training, and open up space for a respectful dialogue at the company about racism.
Value #3: Smarter. Faster. Better. We cannot go backwards, or continue to make the mistakes of the past. Listening to Black voices will only help us better understand a way forward.
Six-Point is committed to sharing and amplifying the voices and content of Black strategists, creatives, artists, and marketing professionals, and we are committed to actively seeking to diversify our vendors, collaborators, and internal team, and to compensate them fairly for their work.
Value #4: Use what you have to help others. We have a vast network of business owners and business resources, and we also have financial resources.
Six-Point is committed to networking with Black business owners and freely sharing connections, resources, and expertise. The company has also made a financial contribution to Black Visions Collective, an organization committed to systemic change that will allow ALL Black lives not only to matter, but to thrive.
Value #5: Assume goodwill. We know that people are coming to terms with the reality of racism in our country at different paces and in different ways.
The Six-Point team welcomes dialogue and feedback. We know we will always fall short in our attempts to speak up and create meaningful change, but we will continue the work regardless.
As brands and business leaders of companies of all sizes grapple with what they can and should do in the face of complex, systemic issues, I would like to remind you as well that the work we do every day is complex and systemic.
Leadership of small businesses is inherently complex, difficult, and messy. You work against and within complex government and legal structures. You do thankless work every day. You try your hardest, and you get criticized. You fail and fail again. You listen. You learn. You get better, and then you realize you still have further to go.
So let’s do what we do best, and get to work.