“If,” a poem written by English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling in 1895, conveys a compelling message about living one’s life with virtue, integrity, determination
Amid the horrific hate crime and senseless loss of life that took place in Buffalo, New York, last month that poem has been on my mind. What if, in these moments of pain and tragedy, we remain focused on the commitments we made to build more inclusive communities?
During the last two years, we have done amazing work with many members and non-members; and we talked at length about understanding histories and cultures that are different from one’s own. We worked on strategies to advance a vision that will build a bridge between leaders and their staff and amongst colleagues. We created spaces in boardrooms and breakrooms to create conversations and engage in difficult conversations. That work was not in vain. It has been my honor and my privilege to lead this team in the work. And yet the incidents that took place in Buffalo last week are a jolting reminder of why we do this work, and why it is so necessary.
Buffalo could have been anywhere. A young man drove 200 miles to cause chaos and spread hate. He could have stopped in Syracuse, Rochester or any other small town to disrupt our lives and target African American or Black people. Racism is real. Hate is real. Antisemitism is real.
But what if we remain focused? What if we strengthen our resolve and commitment to standing against all forms of hate, injustice and racism? As we enter Pride month and celebrate Juneteenth, a time when we often stop to think more intentionally about historically oppressed, marginalized and victimized communities, there is much opportunity for reflection as we continue to find a way to heal our hearts and help support our colleagues, communities and places like Buffalo.
In the aftermath of hate, some will seek to further push us apart. What if, instead, we commit to educating, learning histories, listening, and endeavoring to understand the lived experiences of others? What if we chose to support and lift up the Black, Latino, LGBTQIA+, women or other minority communities? What if we chose to lean into the work needed to push back on the atrocities of white supremacy and racism that are realities in our world? In doing so, I believe we empower the next generation that will move our communities and nation forward toward lasting and meaningful change. We have come so far. Amid tragedy and heartache, doubling down on our commitment to pursue justice, equity, equal opportunities and inclusion for all is as necessary as ever.
Dr. Juhanna Rogers is vice president of Racial Equity and Social Impact at CenterState CEO. Contact Dr. Rogers at email@example.com to learn more about racial equity and social impact initiatives, DEI training courses and consultation services available through CenterState CEO.