Systemic Racism

Uncle Sam Ain’t Your Unc: Systemic Racism in Business

Community Op-eds

Analysis shows that in the two years after George Floyd’s death, police violence against marginalized communities has increased and so have calls for an end to systemic racism in this country.  The unforgivable killings, the heartbreaking protests and loss have taken their toll.

Businesses now have to navigate three major intersectional issues:  The pandemic (Yes, we are still in the midst of the pandemic. Don’t let Ken and Karen have you out here slipping in these Covid streets); Spurring major action in the areas of diversity and inclusion for all and the midterms in November of this year.  The United States is politically polarized around all three issues while Black business owners are left trying to navigate on our own.  

As Black Business owners it is up to us to not ask for permission, or even forgiveness, as we get out of our own way and lead the charge. Our customers are looking to us, as the leaders in the community, to do just that…lead. We understand that we didn’t start it, but we can darn sure finish it.  Want to know who actually has a helping hand?  Non BIPOC allies. Yes.  They want systemic racism to end just as much as we do.  Whites are starting to have just as much distrust for Uncle Sam as the Black community.  Social media is a hotbed of conspiracy theories that MSM simply repeats without question, or verification.  Uncle Sam?  

Communities of color depend on the businesses in it to make no provision on this issue.  Are we as business owners meeting the expectations? Let’s take a look at the statistical data. 

A survey compiled by Edelman, found that buyers now feel it is a business or corporation’s burden to bear. According to the survey, Black respondents came in at 81% while their white counterparts came in at 54%. 

More than half of buyers stated that in order to “earn and keep their trust, it is deeply important for companies to respond to racial injustice.” 48% of those surveyed said they are looking at how brands respond to injustices against Black people and the protests about racial equality as a determining factor to spending their money.  37% of those surveyed, stated they had no aversion to boycotting a business altogether based on their response or lack thereof. 

Uncle Sam is losing trust among everyone.  In the four major ethnic groups — Black, White, LatinX and Asian — only 36% of the respondents say that the government is doing all it can to end systematic racism. However, there is a huge difference in where Black and White see eye to eye on police violence.  52% of Blacks mistrust and only 34% of Whites. Why is this an issue?  If we can’t see eye to eye on ALL of systemic racism, we don’t have a chance in hell of truly ending it.

Here’s where expectations vs reality comes in.  Don’t get me wrong.  Businesses are taking huge strides to assist, but the statistics don’t lie.  According to several recorded metrics, used among a variety of ethnic groups, here’s what they found the gaps:

  • “Creating Change” is a 27 point gap
  • “Educate and Influence” is a 25 point gap
  • “Getting Their Own House In Order” is a 28 point gap

As business owners, taking a stand to end systemic racism isn’t political, and shouldn’t be considered taboo. We have a moral and economic duty and incentive to get involved, as the study recommends.  Buyers are now 5 times more apt to spend their hard earned dollars with the companies and brands that tackle racial discrimination head on.  

The study found that younger generations were more vocal about it than older ones, and are MORE than 5 times more likely to take a firm stand based on a company’s social reactions and policies. 

What can you do in your business to take steps to end systemic racism in your local area?  Think of some easy things you can do right now. Can you change how you market to avoid common platitudes and racist generalizations? Are you hiring people of all ethnicities and diverse backgrounds for representation as suggested in the Edleman report?  Remember, “We all we got”.

Author: Latasha Chubb

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