Acts of kindness were the highlights of the continuing protests last night in Charlotte, NC, with protestors creating little drama for the television media to capture. Instead, hugs, songs and dialog with police were on display.
It was a stark difference from the day before, when thousands of Charlotte employees were told to stay home in the wake of violence in the business district that left one man dead.
“We have to be the ones out there who set the tone. People did that 60 years ago. We have to continue it,” a local black radio personality called Chewy Torres told the Charlotte Observer. “We showed the world what we represented today. We showed them that we’ve got peace, we showed them that we’ve got unity, we showed them we are Charlotte and we showed them we want change in our system.”
But serious questions remain about the fatal shooting of Keith L. Scott, a 43-year old black man. A video of the shooting, viewed by the family, has been called inconclusive. And the protests have revealed a much deeper divide in Charlotte, a city that has prided itself as being a beacon of the New South. One example: A University of North Carolina study found that blacks, particularly young black men, were far more likely to be stopped by police in Charlotte. That racial disparity in traffic stops has been growing.
I reached out to my growing slate of experts, looking for ways that the business community might play a role in helping people like Torres set the tone while helping bring badly needed change to where they live and work.
Tolanda Tolbert, PhD, Director of the Inclusive Leadership Initiative of the Catalyst Group, responded with a fascinating idea. She points to Employee Resource Groups, (ERGs) the voluntary, employee-led organizations that typically work to smooth the way for their members, but which have been increasingly tackling the thornier issues of race, inclusion and justice in their companies and communities.
“We would suggest that the work that most ERGs do could be leveraged to create a space where the targeted communities and the authorities could meet and have a dialog,” she says, referring to the police and aggrieved activists in Charlotte. “We could also see ERGs functioning as advisors to either side of this conversation—working as a bridge to communication,” she says.
Tolbert, who studies and consults with ERGs as part of her job, thinks they can grow into a management force for change. “For example, imagine that situation with Arizona passing discriminatory laws,” she says. “We could see an ERG telling their leadership not to have their annual conference in a location, or to stop sponsorship of an event.”
To her knowledge, she says, an ERG has not yet established itself as an ambassador in this way.
Who will be the first? Let us know: raceAhead@newsletters.fortune.com
|Beyonce moves from brand to impresario|
|Queen Bey has been quietly making moves behind the scenes to develop herself into a business powerhouse, investing in start-ups, nurturing new talent, directing and producing. She’s also reshuffled her management team, poaching talent from a number of industries, with former J.P. Morgan executive Steve Pamon at the helm.|
|Wall Street Journal|
|Obama to Trump: Maybe check out the new African American History Museum?|
|After criticizing the Republican candidate for saying that black communities “are absolutely in the worst shape than they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever,” the President suggested that Trump could learn a thing or two about the complex history of the U.S.|
|How a ‘formerly arrogant’ jock became the youngest black CEO of a public company|
|At 38, Joel Gay is the youngest black CEO of a public company, and he’s number 13 on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list. In this insightful Q&A, he shares his greatest strengths (intellectual curiosity), weaknesses (impatience) and how he worked his way up the sports and business ranks even though he became a father in high school.|
|Goldman Sachs: Employees need to have difficult conversations about race|
|Edith Cooper, the head of Human Capital Management for Goldman Sachs, wants her firm and yours to ask the question,“how do the recent events affecting us as people, in turn, affect our interactions at work?” – and then listen to the answers. She leads the way in a courageous post about being a child of the Great Migration and the years of racial microaggressions she’s fielded at work.|
|Why some cities riot, and others don’t|
|The short answer from CityLab: Cities where riots occur are highly segregated. Within those cities, certain segments of the population are left behind economically, and experience consistent, oppressive “policing” in the form of surveillance in stores and streets. The final piece of the puzzle is the reliance on an underground economy –which triggers more policing – to get by. A fascinating read.|
The Woke Leader
|John Coltrane’s would have turned 90 today|
|If you’re not able to spend the day contemplating the limitlessness of the human spirit when aligned with a force greater than ourselves … then enjoy this review of Coltrane’s masterwork, A Love Supreme, instead. It helps the uninitiated understand why Coltrane meant so much to so many, and why he is so sorely missed. He’s been dead since 1967, and trended on Twitter today. Love conquers all, hepcats. Yes it does.|
|Poet Claudine Rankin is planning an artist collective to explore white supremacy|
|Claudine Rankin is another fascinating MacArthur Genius grant recipient, whose individual work includes searing commentary on race, justice, violence and public life. She’s now sorting out how to make her “Racial Imaginary Institute” a reality, an artist collective designed to support work that focuses on the understanding and dismantling of white supremacy in America.|
|Los Angeles Times|
|Jopwell is offering free professional headshots for students of color|
|Jopwell, the diversity recruitment and hiring platform, is offering free headshots at six college campuses across the country. Social media profile pics can boost chances of nabbing an interview with an employer by 40%, so the more professional you look, the better. Click through to register, or share with your interns.|
|Jopwell on Facebook|