June 25, 2020
Written By: Mia (MA), Andre (CA), Lucas (IN)
For the last few weeks, we have watched as our home country tears itself apart. It is an endless stream of imagery contrasting intense brutality with acts of kindness, solidarity and strength espousing hope that the systemic racism plaguing our society will at last be acknowledged and dismantled.
So how did we address this at LCG Brands? Twelve of us – each with our own unique backgrounds and hailing from different parts of the world – sat down and had a conversation. We found a way to come together and share a colorful, energetic, and diverse discussion addressing the problems of racial injustice that have plagued this nation for far too long. Today, we want to share our thoughts with you.
It is time to wake up. We all have a civic duty to evaluate any opinion or event with an open mind. Each of us should be actively educating ourselves about the motives, purposes, and history behind the Black Lives Matter movement and why it exists. Having essential conversations about difficult, uncomfortable topics with friends, family, and peers will help us appreciate and evaluate issues from multiple viewpoints.
“My entire family is from South Africa and specifically my grandparents lived during the systemic racial segregation of Apartheid. It has been really interesting to be able to have these conversations with them because I feel like I am learning so much since they have experienced this before in the past. At the same time, I went to a high school where my graduating class was 100% white. I attended a high school that did not provide the education I should have received in terms of racial issues, so I feel blessed that I have been able to talk to my family about these issues, as they provided me with that sort of education that I should have received in high school. I think that education is where this all needs to start.”
– Alexa, Florida
We strongly believe that a societal revolution that improves the lifestyles of minority groups will never occur unless the police can react professionally and constitutionally to any given situation. It is infuriating that too few states – only 21 out of 50 – go through years of de-escalation training. De-escalation training is not just a checklist item; it is programming that takes years to master, requires continuous upkeep, and relies on annual refreshment courses to ensure that prior training remains effective and up-to-date. Most of the 12 of us live in different states with varying law enforcement regulations – however, we all believe the U.S. must focus on the importance of and implement this intensive de-escalation training unilaterally across every state in the union.
“There has been a lot of evidence that white fragility exists during this time. You have this group of people that for the past hundreds of years has been peacefully protesting; they have stated their case time and time again but have been unheard, and finally reached the point at which they needed to start escalating their tactics in order to be heard. The lack of empathy is hard to see among these groups. I have tried to educate my peers carefully saying, ‘you’re entitled to your opinion, but here’s another perspective that you may not have considered.’”
– Brandi, Ohio
The number one thing society at large is lacking right now is a stronger sense of empathy for other people. The 12 of us – and a significantly growing number of Americans – aspire to ensure that all minority groups have the same level of inclusion as those currently in a position of privilege, which should not be considered giving others “special” treatment. Although we have seen efforts to unify our country before, the results were neither desirable nor consistent. Change will not come about until we make racial injustice transparent in today's world and hold those who perpetuate it accountable for their actions.
Understand this: It is okay to not know what to say or feel about these issues that make us feel uncomfortable or confused in these times of unrest, and rampant social media posting during this time has all of us feeling overwhelmed. Those of us who do post in hopes of shedding light on these difficult topics are frustrated and disheartened by the shaming that often ensues, and others have turned posting into performative activism, including “tagging challenges” that are an exploitation of the actual issues at stake.
Many of us have decided to take time off social media. Those who took this break explained that taking time to reflect on one’s thoughts to form one’s own opinions without pressure is an effective form of self-reflection. Doing this allows us to express our opinions with more confidence and strength when we do decide to break the silence.
“I think as a white person, the very first step to understanding this situation is realizing that you have privilege. You are never going to completely understand this situation because of that privilege because you are not oppressed personally. That is step one. A lot of people are saying, “I am tired of being tired” and I relate to that so much because although it is difficult to see the protests and riots, I realize that they are necessary. Things won’t change on a federal level unless they are fought for on the scale like what we are seeing now. The fact that it is taking this level of pressure from activists for the bare minimum of change to occur reminds us that progress always has been and always will be a painfully slow process.”
– Logan, Virginia
As 12 individuals, we all came to the disheartening conclusion that acts of violence are continually serving as the impetus for change. The reality is that we are a sample size of the diverse population of the United States and if we can work to educate ourselves about and refuse to accept the perpetuation of systemic racism, so can you. Thus, we challenge you to have these difficult conversations with those around you. This is a human rights and equity issue, not a political issue. No one has the right to stand idly by.
Conversation With: Alexa (FL), Brandi (OH), Ethan (IL), Gautami (MO), Gurman (CA), Jacqueline (CA), Jodi-Tatiana (MA), Kelsie (OH), Logan (VA), and Yuki (MA)