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Leadership Cannot Be Silent In the Era of President Trump

So, now we know.

This is Brexit squared,” wrote Time Inc.’s Chief Content Officer Alan Murray in his CEO Daily newsletter. “Angry American voters rose up and walloped the establishment, handing the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump, and making fools of pollsters, pundits, political reporters, and a lot of other people in the process.” He is absolutely right. We are all walking into a new reality.

But it’s breakfast—not Brexit—the people in my inbox and feeds are worried about. “What do I tell my kids?” one Latina mother texted me this morning. “They think a wall is coming to their school.” Muslim women are being reassured that to not wear hijab is an acceptable survival strategy. After all, the new president has vowed to deport them. People are terrified.

This has been an interesting study in power. The president-elect lost three debates, has no government experience, bullies people on television and social media, and has given no indication that he is prepared to lead a divided nation. His policy ideas are light. He was openly endorsed by a hate group. He has been accused of sexual assault and fraud. And he’s repeatedly undermined the legitimacy of the first black president, painting him as a secret foreigner, an uppity usurper of American power. He ran on a platform of righting that wrong.

And millions of white women and men—college educated, young, old, affluent, and working class—voted for him in droves. Yes, what should we tell the kids?

This was precisely the point that commentator Van Jones made in remarks on CNN last night. This is a nightmare scenario for the millions of people who were directly threatened by the rhetoric embraced by the Trump campaign. And try as we might, there is no way to look at this outcome without considering the racial anxiety that lies at its heart. “This was a whitelash against a changing country, against a black president in part,” Jones said. “And that’s the part where the pain comes.”

We’re going to have to do some tough work to figure each other out.

But it’s worth remembering that this is still the same country that fights for equal pay and living wages, created the Movement for Black Lives and #NoDAPL; that says it’s important to lean in and #LeadLikeAGirl; and believes that if we become My Brother’s Keeper, we can save kids of color and ourselves in the process. We are the same country where powerful business leaders are increasingly weighing in on the big issues of race, inclusion, and justice that continue to vex their employees, customers, and communities.

So, let’s work together. How are you preparing to lead your teams? How are you navigating the water cooler? The board room? Where are you finding hope? What do you need?

Here’s the only thing that we know doesn’t work: Silence. “It’s important to remember from the psychological research that the worst thing you can do is never talk about race or gender in the workplace,” says Frank Dobbin, Harvard professor and researcher. That’s why leadership has to come first. It’s the strange and amazing art of allowing people to grow into their own capacity to be seen, heard, and do their work.

When times seem darkest, it’s time to let our little lights shine.

On Point

The first-ever Latina senator was elected last nightDemocrat Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada became America’s first-ever Latina senator, in a tough and expensive race. Though strong Hispanic turnout helped Cortez Masto, it was not enough to help Democratic Rep. Loretta Sánchez who was vying for a Senate seat in California.Fortune

Three Asian American women will now serve in the Senate
It’s a first: Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and California attorney general Kamala Harris both won their Senate contests yesterday, and will join Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono in January. Duckworth will be the first Thai American in the Senate, and Harris, whose mother is from India and father is from Jamaica, is the first Indian American senator.

Minority voters are six times more likely to wait over an hour to vote
It’s a good sign that people are dedicated enough to wait to vote, right? But, says a Harvard researcher who studies voting lines, it could be a sign of serious problems. Early, urban, and minority voters all tend to wait longer to vote—often encountering frustrating barriers—while forgoing wages. And research shows that people who have to wait in long lines are less likely to vote in the future. Not a good sign for the midterm elections.
New York Times

Six million former felons were barred from voting yesterday
The number of people prevented from voting because of felony disenfranchisement, restrictive voting laws or because of some form of incarceration has grown dramatically in the last decade. The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice advocacy group, has created a fascinating interactive map that lets you see how this plays out on a state by state basis.
The Sentencing Project

A venture capitalist says tech’s diversity problems are not unique
Adam Quinton, the founder of early stage investment firm Lucas Point Ventures, says that a lack of diversity in tech mirrors the inability of society at large to welcome diverse people and viewpoints into mainstream culture. “[T]ech needs to realize that its issues are just part of a common human condition: the impact of unconscious bias on the way we interact with others, the influence of pervasive stereotypes…and the consequences of myriad systemic biases built into human capital management processes.”

The Woke Leader

A new collective wants to change the way we talk to each other
I’ve been deeply inspired by the work of the Love-Driven Politics Collective, a multi-generational group of artists, academics, researchers, executives, and everyone else, who are looking to re-frame civic debate through a lens of inclusion, justice, and mercy. They’ve been meeting continually throughout the election season, in pop-up talk sessions and on college campuses. Co-founded by professor David Kyuman Kim, the growing collective asks the question: What is the love-driven response to hate, hurt, and fear?
Love-Driven Politics

The world is big and beautiful, says writer Teju Cole. Understand it
Teju Cole is a mix of many things—young, male, American, Nigerian, Yoruba—which gives him a fascinating lens through which he views a complex world. In a conversation about his recent collection of essays, he touches on race, rape culture, feminism, the rise of Trump, what it means to be African, and the delicate art of civic disagreement. “Free speech is different from mindless neutrality. There have to be arenas in which these things can be thrashed out, argued out…the right to protest, the right to be disagreeable.”

We tend to overlook the African American suffragists
Vogue’s Lynn Yaeger has done us a tremendous service by recounting some of the black suffragists who did double duty: Putting their lives on the line for the vote as both women and black people, just years after of the reality of enslavement. “When the ballot is put into the hands of the American woman, the world is going to get a correct estimate of the Negro woman. It will find her a tower of strength of which poets have never sung, orators have never spoken, and scholars have never written,” said Nannie Helen Burroughs.


In the face of this epic, unseemly election and the concern we all share about the direction of our country and the lack of truth and void of leadership, we can still make a difference in the lives of the people we touch and influence every day. Kindness, compassion, empathy, and yes love is what we need. It is what we must display and share. We are all longing for a deeper sense of human connection and humanity because, when we are touched by it, it fills us up. 
—Howard Schultz