Ramcess Jean-Louis is an attorney and HR/labor relations professional. He has over 20 years experience primarily in the media, tech and engineering arena. He is the Global Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Verizon Media, In The Know’s parent company. You can find Ramcess on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
Everyone was looking forward to 2021, and leaving the chaos and crises of 2020 behind.
However, I bumped into Racism today and we had a conversation. He was also looking forward to 2021.
He asked me, “Why would I leave? I have entitlement, privilege and the psychological safety of fear, ignorance and desperation on my side.”
“Do you think I was just going to go away with the change in the calendar because you read a book called How to be an Anti-Racist and learned a new phrase called ‘systemic racism?’”
“I’ve survived this long because I roll deep. Overt discrimination, bias and bigotry are all a part of my herd. I prey on insecurity. Homophobia, sexism, antisemitism and xenophobia have my back.”
“I have learned how to adapt and transform. I can show up as ‘match the description’ in the justice system, ‘separate but equal’ in the education system, ‘underlying conditions’ in healthcare and ‘microaggressions’ in the corporate arena.”
“Hate and ignorance have always been the source of my super power. But I have learned to amplify my strength by innovating on misinformation.”
So, then I asked, “How do we defeat you?”
Racism laughed and said, “I can tell you step-by-step how to destroy me, but you would never be able to do it — and I will never go away. I am a pandemic like no other. I am hidden in plain sight and unseen by many. People repeatedly stare right at me and say, ‘This is not who we are.’ Others get tired and weary, yet I continue to grow in the hearts and minds of the weak. It would require a level of enlightenment, courage and endurance that has never been seen.”
“Equity and inclusion would need to exist in more than just your latest employment posting. Your zest for justice would have to be more than just a moment. Empathy, advocacy and accountability would need to be more than just buzzwords. You see, my reign will last forever.”
“No, it will not,” I responded. “We recognize your resiliency. It is discouraging to find you repeatedly in positions of power and authority. And although we may never be able to fully rid you from this earth, we will not diminish in our efforts.”
“Your arrogance betrays you because your most egregious acts expose the stark clarity of the work that has still yet to be done.”
I reminded Racism,”We have youth, discourse and a growing global multicultural demographic as our allies. Education, awareness and tireless action fuel us. Even though we lose what seem like never-ending battles, we are committed to winning the war no matter how long it takes; a war that must come to an end if we are all to survive.”
“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”
Racism erupted with laughter again and responded defiantly, “What you don’t understand is I will never stop as you continue to trip over your own tribal instinct.”
I responded calmly, “And what you don’t understand is, we won’t either.”
Racism told me that it was a pleasure chatting, but that he had to get back to work. He was running late for a performance review. As we parted ways, he looked back to me and said, “Hey, I don’t think I caught your name.”
As I turned back, I smiled and said, “My name is Hope. The eldest son of the tribe of Change, brother to Progress and Justice. You always seem to be a fast follower whenever we come to town.”
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