By Antoine Hubbard Sr.
Almost every Black person in America has experienced the sting of disrespect on the basis of being black, and acutely disrespected in their everyday lives — discrimination they see as both subtle and explicit.
While American society purports to be open and egalitarian, or equal opportunity,” such everyday outcomes leave Black people deeply doubtful.
More, Black people are generally convinced that they must work twice as hard to get half as far in life.
Navigating The White Space
Following the Civil Rights Movement, a “racial incorporation” process of the 1970s and 1980s was established, and along with “fair housing,” school integration and affirmative action, it benefited many Black people. Many of these people have joined the larger American middle class, and their children become increasingly assimilated. But this assimilation is essentially into what they know and perceive as “White Space,” which they often navigate haltingly, and essentially alone.
Yet, large numbers of Black people continue to reside in segregated neighborhoods, and their children attend largely segregated schools. When venturing outside their local neighborhoods, particularly into spaces that are overwhelmingly White, they are often surveilled, and at times questioned, harassed, or occasionally arrested by the police – all for essentially “living while Black.”
Given the rigid distinctions between Black and White people, Black people know very little about how White people actually live, and vice versa.
For whatever reason, White people typically avoid Black space, but Black people are required to navigate the White Space as a condition of their existence.
As workplaces tackle racism with a renewed sense of urgency amidst the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, it’s imperative that they approach the problem of racism as they would any other serious business problem – methodically, intensely, and with a sense of urgency and conviction. The first step of problem solving is generally better understanding the problem and in this case that also means confronting uncomfortable truths. In this pivotal Black Lives Matter moment, corporate leaders and ultimately everyday workplaces have an opportunity to do something different. Instead of nibbling around the edges by pursuing the path of least resistance, we can push into territory that’s both uncomfortable and transformative – to truly dismantle systemic racism and transform organizational cultures in a way that invites everyone to show up at work as their authentic self.
Today, Black people inhabit all levels of the American class and occupational structure.
They attend the best schools, pursue the professions of their choosing, and occupy various positions of power, privilege and prestige. But for the ascendant black upper middle class, in the shadows lurks the specter of the urban ghetto. The iconic ghetto is always in the background, shaping Americans’ conception of the anonymous Black person as well as the circumstances of Black people in all walks of life.
In closing, Merced County residents can honor Black History Month by sharing their stories.
God created me Black, and I am BLACK AND PROUD!
Antoine Hubbard Sr. is the CEO of S.0.U.L. — Straighten Out Unjust Law.