Guest Post: "For The Culture" – Can We Talk?

I woke up with the need to speak. To speak to the industry and the companies that occupy a powerful voice in our day to day lives. So before I get into this, I have to ask, “Can we talk?” And I do mean, real talk. This message is not meant to beat you over the head, or condemn you or your company for what you have or have not done during this time. I applaud the media and broadcast groups that from jump have said, we stand with you. #BlackLivesMatter. My mission is to just push the envelope, ask more questions, and see how we all can move forward in a better way in the most transparent way that I can.

If you are asking yourself in this moment, how can you effect change? Real change. How can you in your city, in your market, in your workspace make an impact on this very large issue that comes with decades of systematic oppression built upon a foundation of brokenness? You are not alone. And while you are not alone, you do have a choice. You have the choice to stop the cycle in your sphere of influence or not. You have the choice to draw a line in the sand or not. You have the choice to use your platform, your voice and your resources to take a stance, or not. While there may a lot of things that are seemingly out of your control, do not be mistaken. You do have the ability to control your mindset, your company’s narrative, and to serve a greater purpose right from your home.

This is not just a black issue. These many years of pain, hurt, and anger dig deep into the core of America. How we were founded, how institutions were established and how we continue to attempt to fool ourselves into thinking how far we have come until these incidents bring us back to reality. #SayTheirNames

Today I am speaking to my fellow media family. In this industry that we love, we know there is much work to be done in the space of equality, media bias, and diversity amongst our companies. This should not be a news flash. And while we may not be able to tackle and solve all of these deep rooted issues today, this week, or even this year I echo the sentiments of the peaceful protesters to say “Enough Is Enough.”

To be granted a platform in local broadcasting is an honor. It also comes with a high level of responsibility.

This is not just for the “Black” media to cover. It is not just on the BET’s and Urban One’s to discuss. It is for all of us to address. What is your company’s stance on racism and injustice within our most coveted intuitions, such as law enforcement? If your company has made no remarks or a public stance on this issue, what does that say? We know that silence is compliance. And in some cases, silence is violence. While it may not be physical, it’s emotional violence. It’s mental violence. You are choosing the wrong side of history. 

So I ask these questions to start a conversation and end the silence in the workplace when it comes to certain “sensitive” subjects. The lines between personal and professional intersect, something that people of color have always known. The larger world is now just able to see it.

On your conference calls and Zoom meetings what is being said to move us forward? What solutions are being discussed? How will you engage your communities locally to make a change? Speak up. Don’t be silent.

In your work practices, how will you support your black employees and peers as they press on tired and scarred? How will you empathize, educate yourself, and be the change we all need? Will you continue to directly or indirectly enforce code switching? However you choose to move into this space don’t do this in shallow fashion. It’s one thing to talk diversity and inclusion, it’s a far greater task to truly implement this in the way that every person in your organization operates.

Will you be more than beautifully created social media posts and hashtags? Will you create rules or mission statements that embody real change within your organization? Will you then hold your people accountable if they draw outsides these lines regardless of title or seniority? That is how you effect change.

Will you champion that rising star in the office or in your industry? They need someone who looks like them to be by their side, pushing them forward to fight the good fight daily. As we achieve higher levels of success, who are you bringing with you on your journey to ensure the continued generations of black excellence in our industry.

How will we as an industry ensure that radio ownership changes and the playing field is more even for minorities looking to get in? Where do you or your company stand on supporting legislation and organizations that are fighting to increase broadcast diversity rules? How can we ensure that news and information is as diverse as the world we live in when African Americans own just under 200 or the over 10,000 radio stations in this country?

How will you alter or expand your hiring practices for employees, vendors, and freelancers? Where will you look for a more diverse, qualified talent pool? Will you continue to pass on resumes with unique names? In the music industry, will you give credit to black songwriters and creators for their work or seek more local artists to share their voice? We must do better in our spaces to find, hire, and promote diversity of talent across the media landscape.

Be clear. We are not looking for a handout. We are not looking for jobs or positions based solely on the color of our skin. We are not looking to fill your black quota or to be your shiny new token. We simply want to be acknowledged for what we bring to the table. We want our diverse perspectives welcomed. We want to be understood, heard, and seen in the workplace. We don’t want the “I don’t see color” chats in the breakroom. God blessed us with the ability to see in color. Embrace our color, our differences and also our similarities on a human level.

Now more than ever we need to stand together as an industry and be the change. Be empowered to speak up, we have been silent for too long.

Stay encouraged.

Until next time. Share. Hustle. Shine.

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