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Why gun violence is a C-suite issue

July 8, 2022, 8:23 PM UTC

Happy Friday.

You’re likely still processing the news about the alleged suspect accused of the mass shooting that occurred during a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois. There’s a lot to unpack.

Robert “Bobby” Crimo III is accused of shooting into the crowded parade route from a rooftop. Dozens of people were injured, and seven have died. He has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, with more charges pending. The attack appears to have been carefully planned.

Crimo appears to have been a menace hiding in plain sight.

He grew up in a tumultuous home. His preoccupation with violence, death, and guns was apparent from the thousands of posts, photos, elaborate videos, and songs—he was a self-styled rapper—he shared online. Police visited his home in 2019 and confiscated 16 knives after a relative called to say Crimo had threatened to “kill everyone.”

Locals recognized him immediately.

He is now credibly accused of appearing at an area synagogue during Passover this year, and was monitored closely by security because “he seemed out of place.” And Highland Park resident Rachael Wachstein reported seeing Crimo at numerous gatherings with far-right activist groups at pro-Trump events. He targeted counter-protesters. “He was pretty aggressive,” she said. “He was up in my friend’s face, shouting,” she told the Washington Post.

Yet, he was able to legally purchase five firearms.

Writing for the Atlantic, Imani Perry has a heart-breaking piece on gun violence in the U.S., drawing a necessary comparison between the death of Jayland Walker by the police, an unarmed young man who was shot some 60 times after fleeing a traffic stop in Akron, Ohio, and Crimo, a sniper who terrorized an entire community, and who was taken into custody without incident.

She reaches the same conclusion as I have: No one is safe.

Some people are far more vulnerable than others. Those who are further from whiteness, wealth, gender norms, able-bodiedness, and citizenship bear the brunt of harm in the United States. But when you create a nation that fetishizes firearms and rejects interdependence, respect for all, and the public good, no one is safe. We are all learning, slowly but surely, that you cannot contain this easy-bake gun violence.

The guiding principle of raceAhead has always been to notice who is not in the room—or board, or supply chain, or leadership team, or suburban haven, or gifted program in school, or in the “healthy outcomes” column in any medical research, etc.—and ask why. In a world defined by dominant culture overrepresentation by default, the talent pipeline from birth to C-suite has some predictable, and predictably tragic, leaks.

The pipeline from birth to mass shooter may be complex, but not that hard to predict.

My prediction—or maybe just a wish in disguise—is that leaders with position or brand power will find it increasingly untenable to sit on the sidelines of public advocacy on gun safety in the U.S. It is a public health issue. It is a human rights issue. And, yes, it is a talent pipeline/diversity issue.  

You can’t upskill dead.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Ellen McGirt

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Ashley Sylla.

On point:

Business executives share their abortion stories Yesterday, Fortune published a feature in which a diverse array of 14 leaders—many of whom are high-ranking executives or company founders—shared their abortion stories. The stories are varied, personal, and clear: It was an essential, life-saving choice for them or, in one case, their mother. I’m enormously grateful to my Broadsheet colleague Emma Hinchliffe for her dedicated reporting, which is ongoing. Here is a request from Hinchliffe: If you'd like to share your own experience with abortion to add your voice to this effort, email Include whatever level of detail you are comfortable with about your experience—how you felt, what was going on in your life at the time, and how you accessed care—but try to include the year, location, and your age at the time if possible. Please say how you'd like to be identified: by full name, by first name and last initial, or anonymously. Your note may be featured in a future edition of the Broadsheet, with your permission. Thank you so much. It's an honor to amplify your stories.

Inflation, how bad are things going to get? This was the topic of a recent panel I moderated at the Aspen Ideas Festival. It was a rich and varied conversation, and while there are plenty of unknowns ahead, one thing was clear: It’s going to be worse for some than others. Here’s a prime example. Low-income or suddenly vulnerable workers are increasingly likely to become unhoused. A project manager in Sacramento lost her job, then suffered under rising prices. Flash forward a matter of months, and she’s living in her car. “I made good money — last year I made almost $100,000 — and I can’t believe this happened to me,” Josanne English tells the Washington Post. “But with prices the way they are, it can literally happen to anybody.”
Washington Post

A workable release from prison I’m noticing an increasing array of job training and reskilling programs designed to match formerly incarcerated people with good, often corporate, jobs. But getting the roughly one in three American adults who have criminal records into a position to access those programs can be the first hurdle. Turns out, cash helps. Returning Citizen Stimulus, an initiative from the non-profit Center for Employment Opportunities, began offering cash money, doled out over three months, to people just released from prison. Experts say the income can be an essential tool in helping people re-enter society. Click through for more good ideas.
New York Times

Activists want Carolyn Bryant Donham to be held accountable for her role in Emmett Till’s death It was a twist nobody saw coming. An unserved warrant for Donham, who accused Emmett Till of “whistling” at her, setting the stage for his subsequent lynching in 1995, was found in a Greenwood Mississippi court basement two weeks ago. The Department of Justice officially closed the case late last year, but advocates say the document is a loophole that would force Donham, who is now in her 80s, to see justice. “You cannot ignore this,” Till’s cousin Priscilla Sterling told WRAL. “If this is what’s needed to do for us to change our mindset, our behaviors, and attitudes in society, then this will do it. This will do it. Execute the warrant.” People have shown up at two homes, one an assisted living facility, asking Donham to turn herself in. "It's time for you to answer," one demonstrator said.

On Background: Inspiration

In a world of division, violence, and despair, a beautiful boy band brings hope Take a break from the news of the world to consider the alt-view created by BTS, the K-Pop phenomenon that has transformed the genre of manufactured boy bands (a song as old as pop culture) into a movement for light and love with a catchy beat. E. Tammy Kim resisted the call to write about them, for all the reasons. But even she got on board. “To continue ignoring the BTS phenomenon was to risk missing something bigger than Beatlemania,” she wrote. At the heart of the phenomenon are the fans, a wildly diverse group who find each other in the most amazing ways. Enjoy.
New Yorker

Knowing Jurnee Smollett It takes a writer of Rebecca Carroll’s caliber to help fully flesh out the extraordinary talent that is Jurnee Smollett. Fresh from her role in Netflix’s latest science-fiction feature, Spiderhead—and perhaps best known for her starring role in HBO’s Lovecraft Country–Smollett has been working steadily since her debut in Eve’s Bayou, at age 10. She is also the middle child in a big bustling creative family, and she speaks candidly of the controversy around her older brother Jussie, who was charged with filing a false police report saying he’d been the victim of a racist attack in Chicago. She poured her anguish into her work on Lovecraft. “Everything was breaking apart,” she tells Carroll. They say through destruction comes creation, and so much in my life was being destroyed in order for there to be room for rebirth. I definitely feel that working through stuff with Leti [her Lovecraft character] added a level of integrity and strength and courage for me to be able to use my own voice.”

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Parting words

As we go about our lives, we touch people, we see people, and interact with them, and in doing so we feel and think many things. Sometimes we make others happy, sometimes we hurt them, we sympathize, and we disagree. In the midst of this we learn that people’s thoughts and feelings are not a one-way street…The games that the characters played were not played facing monitors, but facing other people. The opponents they played were the mirrors that reflected their hearts. In a basic sense, they fought each other’s spirits. Because this was a manga, it was deeply colored by the battle between good and evil, but I think the basis of the “game” was to clarify what lies between people.”

Kazuki Takahashi, creator of the globally beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! manga comic, trading card game, and media franchise, in 2004. He was found dead in an apparent diving accident on July 7.

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.