June 2, 2020

We Have a Responsibility to Look At Ourselves

Hey… We’re going to change course today. There are more pressing issues than my thoughts on the business of media. I have friends and colleagues—I am sure many of you—that are experiencing tremendous pain this past week due to the murder of George Floyd.

I do not understand what the Black community is going through right now. I can try, but I have never dealt with what they deal with; I have never feared like they do. I can walk down the street without being afraid. I can drive without being afraid. I can do most things without being afraid.

I can also succeed in my career without any concern of discrimination. Everyone around me, at the highest levels of media, look a lot like I do. White. There are exceptions, of course, but the senior most executives at the vast majority of media companies are white.

I have it easy. I’m privileged. It is important to recognize this. For those of us that are white, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and understand that because of the color of our skin, we inherently have it easier.

I want to spend a few paragraphs touching on a specific aspect of this. For centuries, this country has marginalized the Black community, interfering in their opportunities to live the same American Dream many of us have been fortunate to have. Redlining is where a loan, for example, is denied to someone because they live in poor neighborhoods. As a society that is built on debt, the inability to get a loan interferes in a community’s ability to reach new levels of financial freedom.

Over generations, this has the reverse effect of compound returns. For someone like me, investments I make today can have a material impact on my life and the livelihoods of my family generations to come. The reverse happens due to these unfair economic situations.

Rather than having the opportunity to rise to new economic levels, generations are left in the same place as they have been.

One book that I still think about months after reading is The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. The synopsis alone sums it up:

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the black community owned less than 1 percent of the total wealth in America. More than 150 years later, that number has barely budged. The Color of Money seeks to explain the stubborn persistence of this racial wealth gap by focusing on the generators of wealth in the black community: black banks.

There are ways that we, in our position of privilege, can help. I leave you with this tweet from a man whom I respect and who inspires me to build A Media Operator to be better than ever.

We are all responsible for hiring people and investing money. As you think about how you help in the weeks, months and years ahead, follow Web’s advice. Hire or wire.

I hope everyone stays safe.

See you on Friday.