As we continue to see an increase in African American lives being senselessly taken, our country has now stepped into an uproar and your black colleagues are not okay. They are not okay because they just witnessed the MURDER of an African American man on national TV by law enforcement. They are not okay because statistics show that Black Americans are two-and-a-half times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police officers. They are not okay because although many of them are working virtually due to Covid-19 they are still forced to keep a smile on their faces while dying emotionally during morning Zoom meetings. They are not okay because they so desperately would love to go out and protest but fear retribution from colleagues who don’t look like them. They are not okay because they fear being killed by racists and covid-19 simultaneously. They were not okay yesterday and today is not the day for you to start your emails with “Happy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday”. Today is not the day for you to voluntarily see empty time on their schedules and assume it’s okay to schedule a call to “catch up on their weekend”. Today is not the day for you to ask them questions about race relations that you can google yourself. Today is not the day for them to take the burden of teaching you what it means to be black in America when it’s a challenge they still don’t know how to navigate in the workplace. Today is not the day and tomorrow probably won’t be either.
So do you want to know how you can talk to your black colleagues? You don’t. At least not right now. You wait and then you listen. Will the silence be deafening? Absolutely, but silence right now speaks louder than any other words can and if you truly care you’ll learn all you need to know in the silence.