raceAhead: Leading In Traumatic Times

July 8, 2016, 2:40 PM UTC

We all woke up to terrible news. If people at work were on edge yesterday, it will be far worse today.

Five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by snipers overnight, during a demonstration over the fatal shooting of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. A reported seven others were wounded. Police say they have three people in custody. A fourth shooter, who had been in a stand-off with police, is now dead.

Rifle fire rang out around 9pm local time, scattering the panicked crowd and pinning down police. Cell phone video shot by protestors and eye witnesses, much of it livestreamed on Facebook, described a chaotic and terrifying scene, yet another grim use case for the power of the technology in the palms of our hands.

The legendary advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy posted a strong message on their website, that offers an excellent example of public leadership at a difficult time: Acknowledge the pain, even if you’re not sure exactly what needs to happen next. (Hat tip to Kleiner Perkins’s design partner John Maeda for pointing it out.)


Why your black co-worker seems especially bitter today…

Why your black co-worker seems especially sad today…

Why your black co-worker seems especially quiet today…

We are processing.

We are asking ourselves what to do.

We are hurt because it feels like watching our own selves get gunned down.

We are telling ourselves, “do not let this make you live in fear. do not let this make you hate.”

But we’re scared for our lives, our family’s lives, our friend’s lives.

We’re mad that the protests aren’t working. Why the video recordings aren’t working.

We’re conflicted, in a place between crippling empathy contempt at a world that seems not to care enough.

We are disgusted at police but telling ourselves, “you can’t hate all police.”

We are wondering the point of a moment of silence.

We are wondering if we ourselves will make it back home today.

We are wondering what to do, what to do, what to do.

Just an FYI, not for sympathy. Just acknowledging this because it should be acknowledged.



How is your organization coping? How are you supporting your colleagues and employees? Share your stories and strategies at raceAhead@newsletters.fortune.com

On Point

High profile responses to the police shootingsMichal Addady has compiled a compelling list of responses to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. “We are sick and tired of the killings of young men and women in our communities. It is up to us to take a stand and demand that they ‘stop killing us,’" said Beyonce.

A Slack employee shares her anguish, her CEO responds
Erica Joy, a black technologist who works at Slack, wrote a poignant essay on the emotional turmoil she went through after viewing the Alton Sterling video. She chose to hole up alone in Slack’s library, a “shelter and solace from the smiling, happy faces of my coworkers. The library protects me from their good cheer and protects them from the stew of negative emotions currently on low boil inside me.”  Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield, responded to her directly: “You or anyone else can call in Black any day.”

Games are becoming more diverse
The gaming community has been under fire for both the racism and sexism that appears in some games, as well as the lack of diverse "talent"  in protagonist or other key roles. Paste Magazine reviews nine games that seem to be embracing diversity in interesting ways.

The University of Alabama takes a stand on inclusion
The University of Alabama  is requiring all campus fraternities and sororities to step up efforts to increase the diversity in their ranks. Their recently-published “Action Plan” has been in the works since 2013, after a story in the school paper alleged that black pledges were being systematically denied access to the sorority system. The plan also outlines clear guidelines for investigating and responding to charges of discrimination.  
Campus Reform


The Woke Leader

Finding the strength to lead in difficult times
People in leadership positions suffer in very specific ways during times of trauma, and may struggle to provide direction as their emotional resources become depleted.  Researcher Robert Quinn offers a series of exercises and stories designed to help leaders recharge their batteries by clarifying both the results they want to achieve, and more importantly, why those results matter. It's not just the mission, it's the meaning.
Center for Positive Organizations

Star Trek's Sulu comes out of the closet
Actor John Cho, who plays Sulu in the latest round of Star Trek movies, has revealed that the character will be blessed with a husband and daughter, making him the first openly gay officer on the Starship Enterprise. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he said. The move is a nod to George Takei, the closeted actor who originated the character.  Takei is now a well known LGBT advocate. 

China has become a nation of live-streamers
The Chinese version of live-streaming everything, from bungee jumping to lonely men eating their dinner, has taken off much more quickly than in other countries.  "China’s wide adoption of mobile phones and the loneliness brought on by a fast-paced migrating society means people are more willing to connect this way," says one expert.



You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.
—Dalai Lama XIV