In order to help businesses and organizations learn to identify and acknowledge the racial inequities that exist in our community, The Racial Healing Project offers numerous services to promote Anti-Racism in the private sector. Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, founder of the Racial Healing Project, discusses steps that businesses can take to work towards a more understanding and equitable work environment.
Addressing the Problem
“There is a chronic history in our country that is really rooted in its systemic and structural racism,” says Rashaad Abdur-Rahm, founder of the Racial Healing Project. He believes it is imperative that outcomes for people and their communities should not be based on race, zip code, or other determining factors. Racism exists across sectors, including education, business, and government. However, it is often these sectors that act as the main contributors to the ongoing problem of systemic racism. Therefore, Abdur-Rahman’s project is about, “integrating an anti-racism framework in the way we not just talk about this, but the way we actually function as institutions or function as organizations.”
Businesses Must Step Up
In the past, businesses, believing that it’s safer to not address the problem, have taken the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to the issue of racism by not engaging or getting involved. Abdur-Rahman thinks there’s no time to hesitate, “Riding the fence is no longer safe. In fact… folks can ride the fence until they are impaled by the fence, right? And it is just no longer a safe choice to do that. You’ve got to be really clear about what side of history you’re going to be on and really clear what your company is about. What do you stand for?”
How Businesses Can Make A Difference
In recent weeks, numerous companies across the country have released statements regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Anti-Racism platform. Abdur-Rahman encourages businesses, especially those local to Kentucky, to continue to put out statements addressing their grievances with the issue of racial inequity: “Statements really do matter. And I think that those statements should very much capture the commitments that should reflect the values that, if they’ve been implicit, should be explicit now.” He goes on to state that campaigns that dedicate resources directly towards black-owned companies are a great way to get involved with the issue. “There are a myriad of ways in which the presence of systemic and structural racism not only diminishes our shared humanity, but also has real economic impacts.” Supporting black-owned businesses would very easily help alleviate the negative economic effects of institutionalized racism. Abdur-Rahman concludes that “good business means that you are part of solving complex problems rather than contributing to them, or tacitly allowing them to occur.”
Call To Action
If businesses wish to insert themselves into the fight and work towards a more equitable future, they must not do so on their own. There are individuals who have been activists and who have been advocating for these movements for years, and it is crucial that businesses begin to partner with these individuals so that they can do so efficiently and effectively. Abdur-Rahman leaves us with a call to action: “We are in a position now, and we’ve been in the position for a long time, where you’ve got to make a choice, and those choices are really meaningful in this broader fight for justice.”
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