Recently, I was invited by the Michael Smart of Michael Smart PR to speak to one of the smartest group of media relations experts in the industry. Michael, a white male out of Utah (that’s how he described himself) and a renowned, national speaker, called me yesterday and invited me to share my thoughts on how public relations professionals should operate and work in this current environment especially with each other and reporters. At first, I was pleasantly surprised and welcomed the opportunity because it showed he cared about my opinion. There were about 300-500 people in this room, majority who were white, and I really wanted to convey something of value with the best intentions so I prayed that God would guide my tongue because this opportunity is all about uplifting Him and not about me at all. The initial advice that I shared to the listeners was to reach out to people of color whom you know, check on them and let them know you care and respect their fears and distress. I have been blessed with so many sweet e-mails, texts from friends and former co-workers to let me know they love and care for me. I know it’s hard to ask the difficult questions to a person of color about what you can do to make things better. But understand the response is hard to provide because the answer lies within you as well. Here’s a few things from my POV. I’m sure there are more.
- Do your homework and find out who needs help. There are so many organizations needing help. Just google social groups for justice, racial equality, etc.-
- See people as they are. I always hate hearing “I don’t see color”. Well if you don’t see my color, you don’t see me. Being black and brown is not a disease! If God saw fit to create us in a variety of color, then you are just pissing on His creation by not seeing and appreciating His artistry. I also hate the term melting pot. I don’t want to blend in. Everyone doesn’t have to look alike, sound alike or act alike. I prefer a salad bowl – because you see each ingredient, adding its individual asset. We HAVE to celebrate each other’s differences. –
- Lead with your heart. The author Minda Harts wrote something that impact me. She said “Lean into your courage and push aside your caution, because no one benefits when allies are caution.” If your intentions are sincere, then people will know.
- Start a conversation – not with just people of color but with your friends who look like you. Discuss the uncomfortable topics about race. A wise minister said we need to get uncomfortable to get comfortable. Don’t let your friend make racial remarks around you without checking them and making them feel uncomfortable.
- Donate anyway you can – time, money, or just an ear. No effort is too small because you see if we each take one small step together in love, we will be amaze how many steps those add up too — pushing us towards some kind of greatness. – If you have the means, stand up for someone who doesn’t have the means. Soledad O’Brien shared a story at an event I attended about her mother, a black Cuban who taught at a school where the majority of faces were white. One day her mother witnessed the white principal being extra caustic to a black student. The principal saw Soledad’s mother and told her to move along. Soledad’s mother refused to move along. She stayed and told the principal that she was standing as a witness for that child of color. Wow, imagine if we are witness to any form of racism and decide to stand up for our fellow person who is abused in order to prevent a tragedy—a lost life or even a lost soul. Bottom line — any type of small gesture will do — even if it’s posting a black box on your social media. There is no right way to do something wrong and there is surely no wrong way to do something right. Be bless everyone!
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