The past few weeks have been terrible ones for humanity.
In Minneapolis, a white police officer murdered George Floyd, described by his family as a “gentle giant, an athlete, a father and a beautiful spirit.” In my home state of New York, a white woman called the police on Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher, who requested that she leash her dog. In Georgia, three white men were finally arrested and charged for the February murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger they chased down, trapped and executed at point-blank range.
Racially charged tweets have replaced meaningful action to address the most important issues that continue to divide our nation — racism, hatred, violence and injustice. These events were captured on video for us to view repeatedly, and soak in the shock and horror. Countless others are not, and these experiences are too real and far too common for black and brown people.
Late Saturday night, I spoke with my sister in Philadelphia. Neither of us could sleep. I’d never heard her in such despair and so afraid. So exhausted by the burden of having to remind her 15-year-old son every day, before he leaves the house, to be careful. To take his hands out of his pockets immediately if ever approached by police. To not reach for his phone. Or anything else. Ever.
The anxiety of a single mother waiting for her son to return home safely every night, because he is a young black man who wears a hoodie and makes his way across town to basketball practice. It is almost too much to bear. My eyes fill with tears to write this, for her and for many of you.
I cannot stand in a black man’s shoes, and I will never pretend to fathom the thoughts that run through his mind, the rage in his soul and the grief in his heart. But, I can do more. I can run towards the fire and not away from it. I can commit to loving, respecting and protecting my black brothers and sisters. I can be a stronger ally, raise my voice to amplify the voices who have been silenced, and act.
We don’t do religion or politics at GetWellNetwork. But, we do PEOPLE. This week, we will gather our purple village to talk about ways to strengthen inclusiveness, empowerment and support for teammates of color throughout the company. And, we’ll use our platform and our GetWellNetwork community to not only create discourse but to encourage and support action.
So here is where we are starting:
For our GetWellNetwork community: We will stand up a permanent Diversity + Inclusion Council to take a hard look at our own internal practices and inspire change where change should be — needs to be — made.
For our communities of color: On August 1st, 2020, our 20th anniversary as a company, we will provide a day of service and investment to get out and make a difference in communities of color.
For our national community: The increased likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 is adding a layer of complexity to the fight for equality. We’ve just launched the free GetWell Loop Stay Vigilant Self Check-in Tool, to help keep demonstrators, their families and their communities safe with daily reminders to monitor health.
It is merely a start. Hold me to account. No excuses.