July 27, 2020
By Brandon Knight
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” is a quote that I heard a few times growing up. The definition of the expression is to avoid eliminating something good when trying to get rid of something bad or rejecting the favorable with the unfavorable.
And in the case of today’s issue of racial inequality, to some degree I feel like that is happening with the opinion or efforts of non-black allies.
To understand my perspective, I think it’s important to give a little history. Present day I’m both a VP at the top master agency in technology and a member of the board of directors for the industry’s only business resource group devoted to diversity and inclusion. However, I started in the inner-city streets of Philadelphia. Raised by a single mom. One of six kids in a row home. I was in eighth grade when I interacted with a Caucasian child for the first time. Before that, the only non-black people I saw in person were teachers.
I grew up with my grandmother living two houses down from me and my great-grandmother living around the corner. My great-grandmother was born into slavery on a plantation. Slavery was abolished while she was a small child, but remnants from that experience stayed with her throughout the remainder of her life. My grandmother was born in the south, post-slavery. Although my grandmother was not born into slavery, she often remarked about how she was “good enough to cook the food, wash the clothes and care for the children, but not able to eat in the dining room with the people eating the food she made.” Outside of her stories, I didn’t know what race relations was, or poverty or have/have nots. Everyone in my neighborhood was the same. I had nothing to compare it to, so I didn’t realize anything was wrong with it.
Police officers didn’t come to my neighborhood. And when they did, it was because they were looking for someone from my neighborhood to take to jail.
Fast-forward to today. I’m well-educated, and experienced in my career, I have the cultural understanding that comes from being fortunate enough to have literally traveled the world. And I find myself leading the charge for inclusion in the face of heightened racial turmoil and unrest, which is the result of hundreds of years of insufficiently addressed oppression. This extremely divisive topic is passionately represented on both sides. But as can happen all too often in these cases, the most recognized voices of opinion are those of the radical extremists seeking to promote an agenda or propagate a stereotype — the problem, of course, being that statements and generalizations of absolutes are never true.
Channel Partners and Channel Futures are dedicated to fostering an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion in the channel and the technology community as a whole. Thus, we are featuring news articles, first-person accounts and strategies around topics of race, diversity and inclusion to spur discussion of these important subjects. Visit our webpage dedicated to the topic.
And even though it makes for good media, all white people are not racist. All cops are not power-wielding perpetrators of prejudice. Not all black people are dangerous, lazy or criminals. All white people are not wrong and all black people are not right, regardless of the subject. Every politician is not self-serving. So, regardless of where you stand on the topic, it is never OK to …
… lump a group of people together under a specific ideology based solely on race or skin color.
Who Are the Allies?
This brings me to the subject of “allies.” This is the term used to refer to people who are supportive of equal rights but are not people of color or otherwise negatively impacted by the injustice. Since the channel is primarily made up of middle-aged white men, I obviously know a great deal of them as business associates and proud to say I have several I can call friends. With that said, I’d be lying if I said that everyone I considered a friend has shown themselves to be allies in the current situation. And their silence has spoken volumes.
But there have been some — known and previously unknown non-black people that have taken a stand individually and corporately to speak out against the injustice facing black people in America. Several people in the channel have reached out to see what they can do. I myself have been a guest on video calls, webinars, podcast, etc., where I’ve been given the opportunity to discuss the topic in a constructive manner. And for that I’m grateful.
Hear Knight speak on this topic on a recent edition of the Channel Partners podcast, Coffee with Craig and Kevin.
What I didn’t anticipate – and am quite honestly perplexed by – are the black people who question why I would do such things. Why would I moderate a discussion of two white business owners about the importance corporate responsibility? Why would I join a podcast/talk show with two white male hosts talking about racism? It confuses me when so-called “enlightened” or “awakened” people of color say, “The white man will never change,” “they hate you,” or “they hate all of us.”
My answer is surprisingly simple. What’s the alternative? Should I accept racism? Should I support segregation? Shall everyone return to their country/continent of their origin? Should I only have conversations that are “safe” for a black person to have and leave the hard stuff for the “smarter white people”?
In the fight for racial equality, I believe the enemy of my enemy is my friend; therefore, the only thing that matters to me is what side you are on. If you are someone who supports and encourages racism, regardless of your skin color, you are my enemy. If you are someone who encourages and supports racial equality and are actively working to make a difference, regardless of your skin color, you are my friend. And if you are someone who believes in racial equality but doesn’t know how to get there and are willing to learn, regardless of your skin color, you are my ally.
And as my ally, I will support you. I will not discourage or disparage you. I will not judge you or make you feel inadequate because of your ignorance. And I will encourage, strengthen, educate and embolden because we are stronger together.
Remember, racism is the dirty bathwater, and allies are our babies. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Brandon Knight is vice president of contact center practice at Telarus. He also is on the board of directors of the Xposure Inclusion & Diversity Council, a beacon in the tech services industry where individuals from all different backgrounds can collaborate to assist in the growth of themselves and others.
Read more about:Agents
You May Also Like