bill berry

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What Did You Talk About at Work Today?

My team!!! We just had our weekly check-in via Zoom, and you know what they wanted to talk about? Yes, you know! They didn’t want to go to breakout rooms, either. “Let’s just talk!” Our discussion gave me so much more hope.

You see, a lot of the conversation I’ve seen calls on white folks to check-in on their black and brown colleagues. To understand our pain. Help us feel better. Recognize and use their “white privilege” to make things better for us and ours. That’s a gross oversimplification, but there it is.

Having been black for a long time, I know that what happened to George Floyd isn’t nearly new. It’s been going on for a long, long time. Too long, but still. It’s systemic. It goes on because someone benefits from it going on. That’s what privilege means. It’s there. You don’t have to think about it just like fish aren’t aware they’re swimming in water.

So what I really appreciated was people, white people, not just feeling my pain, but taking upon themselves the responsibility to do their work. To research. To read. Ask questions. Speak up. Confront ignorance. Demand action. Lead.

Too many people, leaders, feel the “need-to-be-seen-as” doing the right thing. Saying the right thing. I appreciate most the folks who are doing the right thing, taking action, simply because it’s the right thing. That’s hopefully more sustainable and not relying on how I feel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had colleagues reach out to me with concern, and want me to know they are thinking of me, are concerned about me, even love me. I so appreciate them because I know them, and I know they mean it.

What I love even more is knowing they’re doing the work.