In The Trenches

At a loss for words

Published on June 4, 2020 Back to blog

Over the last week or so, I’ve struggled with how to publicly respond to all that is happening around us. As my heart breaks and blood boils, I know I cannot stand silent. But honestly, as a middle-aged white male, I am concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing as sensitivities have never been higher.

Sure, like many, I posted a black screen on Instagram on Tuesday, have signed petitions and made donations. At Small Army and across the entire FINN organization, we’re actively communicating with one another, and putting in motion actionable steps to make a more intentional difference, as part of our ongoing work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the marketing, PR and communications sectors. But is publicly sharing the details of those actions the appropriate thing to do? Or in this climate, would it be viewed as self-promotional? Will even this post be considered as such?

Admittedly, I already messed up. On Tuesday AM, I sent an email to our community, sharing some fun work we did to help everyone acclimate as we slowly return back to our offices. At the time, I didn’t realize it was #blackouttuesday and was sending it in the spirit that we could all use some levity amidst the Covid-19 crisis. If I offended anyone, I apologize.

While I often have plenty of advice to share, this is one topic that I certainly cannot even begin to claim expertise. But I do know that long-term, real change requires understanding. So while we must take action, speak up, join together, and be active advocates for systemic and meaningful change, we must also gain a deeper understanding and respect for this issue that has persisted for hundreds of years. 

Over the last week or so, I’ve spoken with and/or heard from many trusted friends and colleagues who have shared resources to help me be more informed and educated. These are now on the top of my reading/listening/viewing list, and I hope they make it to the top of yours soon. (Please note that the descriptions below have been taken directly from each of the corresponding resources.) I’m certain that each one will be much more enlightening, informative, and educational than the Tiger King. (Sorry, but it’s difficult for me to write a post without making at least one goofy dad joke.)

When They See Us (Netflix Miniseries) – Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on the true story.

13th (Netflix Documentary) – Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America.

1619 (2019 Podcast from The New York Times) – An audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.

How To Be An Anti-Racist (2019 NYT Best-Seller) – From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a refreshing approach that will radically reorient America on the urgent issues of race, justice, and equality.

White Fragility (2018 NYT Best-Seller) – The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

The Case for Reparations (2014 Article from The Atlantic) – Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

I’m hopeful that this moment in time will not be just another spike in awareness and outrage, caused by a horrific act of racial violence, but rather a moment that truly changes the trajectory of this nation and sets us on a path to true equality, inclusion, and justice. 

In closing, I am asking you for your advice and guidance. Please share your thoughts, comments, and advice here so we can all be more informed, intentional and impactful together.

As always, thanks for reading.

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners