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Gathering Purpose, Moving Forward

Jun 03, 2020
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Four things that communities and organizations must do now

As tens of thousands of people across the country protest senseless police brutality against African Americans in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is asking important questions. Notably, this one: How do we move forward?

It's a question all organizations should be asking now, says Victor Mullins, Maryland Smith diversity officer and associate dean of undergraduate programs. The answer begins with connecting, Mullins says. "Anytime. Together we will keep moving it forward," he says.

For organizations looking for a way to move forward, Mullins offers this guide, shared earlier this week with the Washington Business Journal.

Mullins writes:

I'm an undergraduate business dean, a diversity officer, and father to two kids attending the University of Maryland. As a black father to two black children, I pray that my wife and I have done enough to prepare our kids for such a time as this. We must come together for reflection and healing, while simultaneously developing action items to move our community forward.

First, we need to read. At Maryland Smith, we are forming a reading group for students, faculty and staff this summer, centering on literature about racism in modern-day America. We want to focus on literature that addresses the many who do not believe in "white privilege" – addressing, empowering, and developing an action step to move forward. We also want to focus on complicity, and its relationship to racism. My colleague, Kaplan Mobray, an author and career consultant, says that "silence is not an option." To be silent means that we're complicit. To be complicit means that we have endorsed racism.

We must also become informed. Here, through the Smith School, we're working with our Diversity and Inclusion at Smith Committee, our Diversity Empowerment Council, the Smith Business Academy, and the Women's Empowerment Institute to create venues to educate our community about issues of diversity.

We must develop relationships with people who are different from us. A few years back, we founded a movement called The Purpose Project. As part of Smith's commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Purpose Project invites people with differing backgrounds to talk about what matters in work and in life. The structure allows people to dialogue, which is a fundamental practice of inclusion. We paused this movement this year, but given what's taking place, it's time to pick it back up again.

We must frame, examine and analyze our own role in systematic racism. Then we must act accordingly to create our own value proposition, while collaborating with others. These steps I believe will help us move forward.

Maryland Smith's interim dean Ritu Agarwal, in an email to the Maryland Smith community, expressed how "deeply saddened and disturbed" she has found the events of recent weeks, with the police deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, "and the many who came before them."

"As we endeavor to understand and share the grief, fear, and other emotions our Black colleagues and students are feeling, we must also do the work to end bias, discrimination, hate, and injustice within our Smith community," she wrote.

Maryland Smith's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion will host an open conversation for faculty, staff, students and others, from 11 a.m. until noon on Friday, June 5 via Zoom to discuss these issues and support one another. Mullins will lead the discussion.

The University of Maryland has marked this time with a week of solidarity and reflection events, to express and listen to the pain, frustration, grief and other emotions felt by members of its campuswide community. Next week will be a Week of Action, in hopes to engage in more community-building, truth-telling and action-planning for the university.

Mullins and others on campus are offering resources and sharing insights, like the ones drawn here, on how to be an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement.

They're also sharing with others a widely circulated list of resources, compiled in May by white activists Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein, aimed at helping people deeply explore the issues of human rights and racial injustices, and to help parents to raise intelligent, antiracist children. Here are some of those resources:

Videos to watch:

Articles to read:

Podcasts to subscribe to:

Films and TV series to watch:

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
  • King In The Wilderness — HBO
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

Books to read:

Organizations to follow on social media:

More anti-racism resources to check out:

Resources to raise anti-racist children:

Books:

Podcasts:

Articles:

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.