Now is The Time to Listen – Racial Injustices Cannot Continue

Now is The Time to Listen – Racial Injustices Cannot Continue

Racial Injustice Cannot Continue
Now is The Time to Listen – Racial Injustices Cannot Continue
George Nichols III
Jun 02, 2020

George Floyd couldn’t breathe, and yet it continued. Racial injustice has followed that playbook for decades. No matter the statistics or the screams for help, it always continues. So, why should what happened on that Minneapolis curbside come as a surprise to anyone?

You hear the stories of black men and women navigating poverty inside America’s densest projects; the malnutrition, the financial stress, the entrenched inequalities in our system that eventually boil over. They become fearful of the cops, of creditors, even of each other while fighting on the streets for survival.

Make no mistake – that’s what this is, not what it’s become. I lived this life as a kid in the segregated South – and five decades have not solved these injustices. Fifty years of powerful people thinking they must always fill the sting of silence with their own words, when it’s not their void to fill.

America now lays bare its weakness in this moment of immense pain. It’s spilled over into the streets of cities and towns across this nation – an anger so deep-rooted leading to glass sitting on sidewalks framing defaced storefronts. I echo Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in urging those protesting to remember the message they want to deliver. He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Put down the rocks, and pick up the megaphones. Amplify your Instagram audiences. Rally the voices of black churches, and the motivations of black activists. Mobilize a communications effort as wide as these protests can stretch. While America is still largely staying at home, there’s a captive audience bigger than ever before.

I really hope our nation is ready to listen. But, more importantly, I hope that those marginalized and mistreated for so long are heard and understood. Because this is bigger than a commitment to hiring a few more people of color or setting up a diversity council or cloaking the systemic struggle black people face with a program that means well, but stops a few steps short of feeling uncomfortable.

I’ve had a tough talk with myself over the last few days. Is The College doing enough? Yes, our scholarship programs lift up people of color looking for valuable, and valued, careers in financial services. Yes, The College’s Conference of African American Financial Professionals will celebrate its 15th year in 2020 as a venue for black men and women to support each other, share stories and strategies, and lift up their communities.

Yet, we can all do more to create equal opportunity in this world, to establish a fairness doctrine that spurs economic growth from the bottom-up, to re-assess how we’ve lived up to Dr. King’s ideals. We honor his birthday, but how’s that anything close to enough?

As a nation, we start conversations on race I don’t think we ever intend on finishing. This time must be different. The College will hold itself and its partner companies accountable for affecting real change through real dialogue. A message co-signed by The College, ACLI, NAIFA, AALU/GAMA, and LIMRA was a strong step in setting the tone.

And, more than anything, we have the opportunity and responsibility to become a platform for progress, where the communities we serve drive the ideas and actions we take. For far too long, pontificators have read some words on race, offered their thoughts and prayers, and America moved on. That cannot continue.