I don’t recall my parents explicitly teaching me to choose love over hate, but they did. My father, a patriot, had a bronze plaque of the declaration of independence in his office. He referenced it often. So, I grew up believing that ALL men (and women) are created equal. Not as black or white, nor gay or straight, nor rich or poor - just people deserving of love, kindness, compassion, and the benefit of the doubt.
I knew racism existed. I know it still does. But, I have always been comfortable assuming that it belonged to a small, insignificant, and ignorant part of our society. I was comfortable believing that in another generation or two, this ignorant belief system would simply fade away.
My eyes have opened.
Life can be hard. Even the most fortunate and privileged among us experience struggle, strife, hurt, and unfairness. But, what I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks is, as a white man, I’ve never experienced struggle, strife, hurt, or unfairness because of my skin color.
I still believe that most people are good and that racism is a disease of the ignorant. I also still believe that it will fade away over time. But, I’m no longer quite comfortable on the sidelines - waiting for things to get better.
So what can I do?
The truth is, I don’t fully know. But, I do know it starts with the man in the mirror. I need to educate myself more on social injustice. I need to search my heart and mind for unintentional bias. As a father of two, I can make sure my children understand the need to love all people equally and to oppose unfairness and inequality whenever they encounter it. In my circle of friends, I can hold people accountable for the words they choose. As a consumer, I can support businesses that are owned by people of color. As an entrepreneur, I can seek out ways to offer guidance and support to Black-owned businesses in our community. At ROAD iD, I can inspect our HR practices and our marketing initiatives to make sure we are doing our part. We will have some great meeting spaces in our new/urban headquarters - we can make those available to community groups that are seeking to create a more just society. And, while our pockets are not as deep as larger corporations that are stroking big checks, we will find meaningful ways to financially support appropriate organizations in our community.
Like my father, I’m a proud American. I wave the flag not because America is perfect but for the ideal that it represents - Liberty and Justice for All.
Black Lives Matter.