Things To Not Say When Making a Statement Against Racism on Behalf of Your Organization
Updated: Jun 11
Stop invoking the name of George Floyd, and other Black men and women when your organization makes a response to anti-Black racism and violence.
It reduces the #BlackLivesMatter movement and expressions of public outrage to one dimension of a broader problem, and diverts attention away from the fact that protests happening across the globe are a response to a history of sustained violence against Black bodies and communities. It is not respectful to his dignity as a human, and it enacts another injustice upon his family.
Black people have reckoned, on a personal level, that the name of their loved one could very well be the next name emblazoned across social media and embedded within hashtags.
Black men like George Floyd would not have made it past the receptionist desk in the lobby of your organization, even if he had an appointment there. Some people would even cross the street if he were approaching them in public.
Here are other things you could say instead of invoking the names of Black people victimized by anti-Black violence:
“We are responding to a history of violence, hatred, rape, and plunder of Black bodies and communities.”
“We are responding to institutional and systemic racism, highlighted by recent incidents that have ignited acute responses of global outrage.”
“We are responding to the permeation of white supremacy throughout our society, within our institutions, and within our corporate structures.”
Instead of invoking his name, here are ideas on how your organization can answer the call-to-action expressed by the movement:
Work inside your organization to create structural and systemic changes that provide equity to your employees that look like George Floyd. Hire, recruit, and promote Black leaders at all levels.
Send money to George Floyd’s family to cover costs of his burial, legal fund, and contribute to the economic survival of his immediate family, as they have lost a loved one and a breadwinner.
Ensure that the movement against anti-Black racism is sustained. Donate to grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter and those calling to defund the police.
Make sure his daughter, and kids like her have access to education. Donate to a historically Black college or university (HBCU).
Support Black businesses and content creators so that they may continue to deliver goods, offer moral support, and produce thought leadership needed by their communities and the world.
Cite the work of Black thought leaders as you provide resources to your workforce to help them understand the gravity of the issues we face. Hire these thought leaders to train and educate your staff.
Before your organization sends out communications about racial injustice and inequity, field the drafts by Black people inside your organization; and not just those sitting around the table (or employed by the PR teams) where those statements were crafted.
Stop invoking Black pain to enhance your organization’s reputation. Act intentionally by naming the issues that society is facing, support organizations and individuals that are doing anti-racist social movement work, and take up the helm of doing the work of dismantling institutional racism within your company. Measure that work and its outcomes. Make sure that folks like George Floyd are a part of the conversation every step of the way.