Last summer, the news of George Floyd’s untimely death was headline news across the world. Business leaders were being challenged to show up for their staff and initiate conversations to foster change in big and bold ways. Many took to social media to publicly commit to listening and learning in order to reshape the conventional methods of addressing centuries-long systemic barriers that have negatively impacted marginalized communities.
In honor of the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s passing, once again, many returned to social media. Some took time to commemorate the anniversary by sharing condolences with his family and friends, while others used the opportunity to share a laundry list of their own accomplishments through reimagined diversity and inclusion programs, many of which were reignited or created following this tragedy.
These tone-deaf statements reaffirm the fact that there is still much work to be done to create an anti-racist nation. This difficult time should be used to reflect, remember and reconnect with your staff and community and offer support and solace to those reliving heavy thoughts and emotions from last year.
What many seem to forget is that George Floyd did not offer himself as a sacrifice to ignite a racial reckoning. He was murdered, despite begging and pleading for his life. He was a father, brother, son, friend and so much more, and he deserves to be remembered as such. Diversity and inclusion leaders, programs and initiatives are indeed needed in the workplace, but they were needed well before the tragic death of Floyd. While news of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Floyd played a large role in 2020’s racial justice movement, those were just three of the many people killed at the hand of carelessness, racism and a lack of empathy for others.
The radical events that we have seen throughout the pandemic should be a wake-up call, With the disproportionate impact of COVID on the Black community to a refocused lens on racial and social justice, and commitments to DEI in the workplace, we have watched displays of greed, violence and arrogance dominate our news feeds for more than 14 months. For many, these incidents have only shed light on the disparities and inequalities that have hidden in plain sight for far too long.
We must lead with empathy and understand the differences between accountability, transparency and boasting. Let us continue the hard but necessary work to create a more unified and equitable future. This time next year, let us reflect on the ways we are growing and share hope with one another. Let us align with The George Floyd Memorial Center to recognize and honor May 25 as an annual Day of Enlightenment. Let us recognize the man, not the movement.
Cierra Mangal is director of marketing at Lambert & Co. and is based in Detroit, Michigan.