Over the past weeks and months we at RLG, together with the rest of the world, have witnessed the traumatic killings of unarmed black individuals by police officers, and then followed the passionate, inspiring and heartbreaking stories and protests supporting #BlackLivesMatter. The global community is demanding recognition of systemic racism, challenging the historical treatments of our indigenous peoples, and calling for changes to institutions (police, government, corporate and private) that must afford protection and safety for all racialized and marginalized communities.
At RLG, we recognize that we too are part of the history that has institutionalized systemic racism. We must be part of today’s efforts to ensure that human rights, equality, justice and opportunity are afforded to all people, regardless of colour, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or heritage, always.
I and many of us at RLG recognize that we have lived our lives in a privileged world. I personally have never been abused, threatened, denied, challenged, ostracized, or ignored, because of the colour of my skin, the language of my parents, the partner I choose or the way I express my religious beliefs or spirituality. We can close off much of the terror that exists in the world and fill our attention with the comfort and safety of protected, insular circles of family, friends, and well-intentioned companies such as RLG.
Edmund Burke’s often quoted truth, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” calls on not only individuals but also organizations to stand up and be counted among those who will commit to action and a “better” world.
Two years ago, RLG established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee to help us better understand our own internal and unconscious biases, challenge our own practices, and hold up a mirror to ourselves and our leadership team.
We at RLG have work to do to be included with those whose actions are transforming our world for the better. We will speak up internally and challenge our own systemic racism and bias. We will commit to conversation and training at all levels, and we will search out, listen to, and learn from insight and perspective that challenges our own comfort and status quo. We will support and fund organizations that are on the leading edge of community and global efforts to acknowledge, understand and eliminate racism and discrimination, and listen to their voices and learnings. For those of you asking how to help and where to start, below are recommendations from our Community Crisis Support Task Force and information on qualified organizations leading in efforts to address racism, discrimination, and the impact on our communities. I invite you to reach out to me and our leadership team, to challenge us, or offer insights or opportunities we may not see.
I thank all our employees, contractors, partners, client and friends who are courageously stepping up and joining us in a journey to better.
President & CEO
RLG International Inc.
RLG Community Crisis Support Task Force
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITIES IN ADDRESSING RACISM
Background: Recent events in the U.S. have resurfaced an ongoing crisis that we cannot ignore. For many individuals and communities, this crisis is equally as threatening and dangerous as COVID-19. Two weeks ago, after his email sharing his own anguish, Brad asked us to send out a list of organizations engaged in combatting racism - organizations which RLGers could support financially or through involvement or both. In essence, he was asking us to respond to the question many of us are asking: “How can RLG help and how can I help?”
Our Path: As we researched and talked this over, we realized this is a multi-faceted issue which has led to the formation of hundreds of organizations with different areas of focus - from addressing historical mistreatment to police brutality, educational inequities, lack of affordable housing, high incarceration rates, poverty, other disadvantaged minority groups and more. We circled back to the main question on our minds: what can we do to make a difference in our communities?
What can WE do in our communities? Answering this question led us to a much smaller list, a list of organizations which focus on one issue we agreed was both fundamental to combatting racism and actionable in local communities. These are organizations based on simple principles:
- The only real cure for racism is true friendship: learning to listen, value and trust
- To generate trust, you must get people together in an environment safe for free and open dialogue enabling people to see themselves as others see them and see the world as others see it
- When trust is built, bias and myth are replaced with truth and respect; distance becomes friendship and the foundation is laid for joint efforts to address real community problems
Case in Point: In 2014, the Mayor of LaGrange, Georgia and other county government heads acknowledged the need to improve race relations. More importantly, they admitted their inability, as white men, to fully understand the issues faced by the black community and the path to healing. But how would they address this gap? Research led to Hope in the Cities, a Richmond, VA. Based organization with tools and professionals to facilitate racial healing.
- The Racial Trust Building Initiative was launched 5 years ago. 350 citizens of all races and ages (including the government leaders who started it) have attended a series of high impact workshops building self-awareness, trust, understanding, forgiveness, healing, friendship, and commitment to move forward together. Apologies have been made for historical atrocities, law enforcement has become a friend to minority communities and education inequalities have been rectified. Results have been noticed far beyond LaGrange as demonstrated by the articles linked below.
- LaGrange Building Black and White Relationships
- New York Times La Grange Lynching Apology
One More Thing: Most of us know from consulting experience that lack of trust in the workforce or between departments or between two individual managers can really handicap a company or facility. Any hope for sustainable improvement depends on resolution. The same principle applies to racial division in communities: low trust precludes reconciliation and progress.
Your Turn: If you’re interested, we recommend a couple simple steps:
- Reach out to someone you know of a different color or nationality. Listen to their story, learn from them and build a trust-based friendship.
- If you are in a community which could benefit from racial healing, reach out and see if there is a racial trust building initiative underway. If so, get involved.
- If no initiative exists, here are links to organizations in the US and Canada which may help. Initiatives of Change also has a global presence for those of you in other countries. Given the virus situation, it may be difficult to get a quick response. If so, let us know and we will help.
Below are links to master lists of US and Canadian organizations engaged in race relations. Several on the US list have global presence.