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Fortune focuses on racism and allyship

June 5, 2020, 10:14 PM UTC

The edit team at Fortune has been working overtime to bring candor, resources and accountability to this urgent moment.

But first, here’s your week in review, in Haiku.

If you are tired,
do what is in front of you.
It will be enough.

If you are tired,
feed your body and your soul.
You deserve the rest.

If you are tired
but fear being left behind,
we will hold your place.

If you are tired
and cannot see the right path
you will find your way.

It’s good to be still,
to listen, take turns, seek peace:
When you are tired.

Be safe and take good care, if you can.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am sad to announce that we’re saying good-bye to Tamara El-Waylly, who is moving on to another editorial adventure. She has been an expert editor, fierce ally, and friend. I will miss her dearly.

And then, another door opened. Starting today, I am thrilled to welcome my dear colleague, Fortune writer Aric Jenkins to the team as editor and collaborator. He also covers the intersection of the entertainment and technology industries. Expect his voice here often. Oh, the places we will go.

Ellen McGirt

On point

I want to devote this Friday’s On point to flag some work that Fortune has been doing to bring candor and accountability to this urgent moment.

  • On Wednesday, Fortune convened a virtual gathering of members of the Most Powerful Women community to discuss how to support Black employees and community members, and begin the difficult task of addressing broader issues of racism and allyship.
  • We invited an eclectic group of experts, who played unique roles in setting up the conversation that followed: Dr. Erin L. Thomas, Vice President, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Upwork; Kelly Grier, U.S. Chair and Americas Managing Partner, EY; Mia Birdsong, Activist, Facilitator, Writer, and author of the new, must-read book How We Show Up; Fran Katsoudas, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Cisco; Arisha Michelle Hatch, Managing Director of Campaigns at Color Of Change; Crystal Ashby, CEO, The Executive Leadership Council; and Insha Rahman, Director of Strategy & New Initiatives, Vera Institute of Justice.  
  • Big takeaway: If you want to be an ally, you have to take action. You can read a recap here.
  • We began, however, by taking a few moments to breathe together and settle ourselves before the work we were about to do. To do that, I asked a dear friend of raceAhead, Aviva Jaye, a singer/songwriter, activist, and program associate at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus to help us mark the moment with song. It was a lovely reprieve in a difficult time; you can watch her performance along with the entire video here.
  • The Fortune staff has also compiled a list of anti-racist resources in a variety of formats that can help anyone do the long-overdue foundational work of getting up to speed: What systemic racism is, how it functions in society, and what specific actions need to happen to dismantle it. Please share, add it to your own resources, and suggest anything we may have missed.
  • The Fortune staff is also announcing a new project called Working While Black. Many companies are speaking out against racial injustices right now, right? But how do those statements compare with the lived experiences of Black employees? If you’re a Black employee in the corporate world, we want to hear from you. We’ve created a Google form to capture your thoughts and stories. If we choose to publish your comment, we only publish your first name and age and no other identifying info.
  • I also want to remind readers that raceAhead hosts a private LinkedIn group for anyone whose job function or expertise is in diversity and inclusion, or who participates in employee-based efforts to advance inclusion in the workplace, like in an employee resource group. Please join us. And if you work in a primarily white institution and are looking for a Black diversity expert to lead programs, conduct assessments, or help you formulate your next steps, please reach out and I’ll help you query the group.
  • And finally, don't forget to submit your nominations for Fortune’s 2020 Change the World list. Lord knows, the world needs changing. This list features companies from around the world that are doing well by doing good. They’re using the creative tools of business to help the planet, involve stakeholders, and tackle society’s unmet needs—and making money by doing so. So, who is making strides on systemic racism and equity? Last year’s honorees are here. Programming note: While submissions to companies’ response to the coronavirus pandemic are welcome, this will not be a COVID-19 only list. Nominate your company or a company you admire below before June 22.

Thank you in advance for supporting this work.

On background

The home security system was invented by a Black woman in 1966 because she was afraid the police wouldn’t respond in time Today, in forgotten history, we bring you Marie Van Brittan Brown, the Jamaica, Queens-based inventor of the first home security system and the first closed-circuit television. The nurse/inventor devised the system — an ingenious array of microphones, peepholes, cameras, and monitors — because she and her electrician husband worked odd hours and lived in a dangerous neighborhood. The two won a patent for their work in 1966. She enjoyed wide acclaim for her invention, many of the elements of which are still in use today.

As Marie Brown was protecting her family, James Baldwin was explaining why she needed to In 1966, Baldwin wrote an essay about police brutality that is painful to read precisely because of its relevance today. It begins with a brutal beating delivered by police in a Harlem neighborhood — first to kids in the street, and later to bystanders who had been taken into custody for the high crime of asking why. One such bystander was a salesman, who had been beaten so badly in custody that he lost an eye. The story is a foundational one. “[A]ll of this happened, all of this and a great deal more, just before the ‘long, hot summer’ of 1964 which, to the astonishment of nearly all New Yorkers and nearly all Americans, to the extremely verbal anguish of The New York Times, and to the bewilderment of the rest of the world, eventually erupted into a race riot,” said Baldwin. So began the police occupation of Black communities he explained in an unsparing and necessary analysis. The Nation

Speaking of the New York Times, you can read Adolf Hitler’s op-ed on propaganda, if you like A massive debate has erupted over an op-ed written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) calledSend In the Troops,” and published by the Times earlier this week. Cotton called for the deployment of U.S military to stamp down public protests on police reform. Some staffers have called for the post to be removed and are demanding a full examination of its pathway to publication. As the soul-searching on the role of opinion pages continue, critics have been sharing this June 22, 1941 piece written by Adolf Hitler that was published in the Times, which can be read by subscribers via the company’s archive tool. The piece was an excerpt from Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, and was introduced to readers with this editorial message: “Germany is now waging a psychological war against this country as well as a military war in other parts of the world. That psychological war is based in the principles of propaganda laid down by Adolf Hitler…below [his] book’s most important passages are published.” The New York Times


raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.

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