Ashley Brown, Manager Servicing Products
This has been a very difficult few months. Between COVID-19, killer wasps, contaminated food and working from home, while in some cases caring for small children or elderly loved ones, we are all pretty stressed.
You see, we are all in the same storm, but we’re traveling in very different boats. And once again, racial disparities in policing is a headline. For most people, this subject is very uncomfortable for many reasons including:
- Not knowing what to say
- Inability to relate
- Avoiding conflict
- Contrasting perceptions of reality
As painful as it may be to start the dialogue, we must address a very challenging topic that is negatively impacting so many Americans every day.
Here are a few things non-Black team members can do to create a mentally and emotionally safe space for Black employees’ Mr. Cooper.
- This week has been very challenging for Americans, but specifically Black Americans. Nearly 25% of employees at Mr. Cooper Group are Black.
- There have been several reports of social injustice against black people over the last couple of weeks, including Amy Cooper’s false accusations of assault by Chris Cooper, a Black man, and the deaths of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of current and former law enforcement agents.
- The Black Community is mourning and outraged over the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and David McAtee, who were all unarmed.
- People are trying to just make it through the day despite their pain. Please do not take black employees’ silence, disengagement or difficulty focusing as not being a team player, laziness or being an “angry Black person.”
- These behaviors are all signs of PTSD, anxiety and depression which many are struggling with given the recent news.
- Some individuals don’t want their anxiety to be viewed as weak, or simply don’t want their pain to be politicized, so they work quietly, keep to themselves and suffer in silence.
- Be sensitive to people’s mental and emotional well-being over the next few weeks and just simply check in and see how they’re doing.
- Acknowledgement, patience and compassion go a long way.
- It may be tempting to ask black people to educate you on the struggles they face and why they are so outraged. This can be exhausting and overwhelming for people who are actively in the trenches. There are many resources available. Utilize the resources to get familiar before attempting to discuss racism.
- Challenge yourselves to look at diverse media outlets, articles, movies and books that may answer your questions and give insight on the struggles people are facing every day.
- If you decide to share articles or resources to the team, don’t just send them to your Black team members. They are very aware and live the struggle every day. Share with your whole team and allow it to be a teachable moment on empathy.
- Sign up for GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp entitled “21 Days of Walking in the Footsteps of Our Foremothers.”
Be an Ally
- Speak up: If you see racism in your community, speak out against it. We are no longer in a place where just being “not racist” is enough. We have reached a point where we need people to be antiracist. It’s the time to educate others around you and share resources with them.
- Challenge your beliefs: Reflect on situations where you may have said something offensive or someone around you did. Go back to that moment in your mind and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Reflect on stereotypes and acknowledge times you may have allowed them to influence your thoughts or behavior.
- Offer support: Reach out to your black friends, family or colleagues with the intention to provide comfort. Listen to them with compassion. Let them know how you plan to support them.
- Take away the burden: Black people are dynamic and have diverse thoughts and opinions about how to approach racism. Right now, people are exhausted and sad that over a century since the abolishment of slavery, we are still facing systemic racism and unjust brutality. Please don’t make them responsible for speaking to various anecdotal scenarios involving race. This can be a very uncomfortable subject to discuss. Take away the burden of them needing to make you comfortable by painting a smile on their faces to hide their pain.
If you are unsure of what to say, here are a few things everyone needs to hear right now.
- I know that you are hurting.
- I care that you’re in pain.
- I hear you.
- I see you.
- I love you.
Compassionate Listening, YouTube
The Effects of Incivility, Degreed
Living While Black, TED
“How Long? Not Long.” (speech by Martin Luther King Jr.), YouTube
“How Monique Melton Is Helping You Be An Anti-Racist,” Forbes
“U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism,” Harvard Business Review
Anti-Racist Resources, Wake-Up Call—Medium
21-Day Black History Bootcamp, GirlTrek
Daughters of Audre Lorde Playlist, Spotify
“Your Silence Will Not Protect You” (speech by Audre Lord), YouTube
“How to Not Die: Some Survival Tips for Black Women Who Are Asked to Do Too Much” by rboylorn, Crunk Feminist Collective