James Baldwin

I WAS Afraid

Recently I was asked to speak at two company events where over five thousand participants joined via a Zoom conference. I was afraid.

But I was also tired of being afraid and being fearful of the outcomes. I decided to use my voice to speak up against the underrepresentation of People of Colour (POC) in our corporate offices in the Americas. The following were my remarks at the All Americas Town Hall on June 17th, 2020.

Thanks, Jacki, for the kind words and especially your time and leadership over the last couple of weeks. 

Thanks, everyone in the Americas for attending this vital town hall today and joining in the dialogue on building a better Dentsu.

In just a moment, I will welcome back Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson.

Before I do, I want to thank her for making time for all of us during this time. It signifies her commitment to educate and support us, as we strive to do better. On behalf of the Multicultural Business Resource Group (BRG), we wanted to share a couple of observations from the last couple of weeks leading up to this moment today.

The journey to get us to this juncture hasn’t been comfortable, OR easy. 

BUT we are on the cusp of implementing substantial changes that will impact us both in the short term and long term, to improve diversity, inclusion and equity for people of colour within our offices.

On a personal note, I look at events that have occurred these past few weeks and continue to happen. These atrocities are clear for many in this country. Yet, it’s the first time some people have seen or experienced racial injustice issues.

Many people have either ignored police brutality or turned a blind eye.

Which to me is frustrating, painful, and exhausting. I am a black man living in America… with two black sons. Like many of you, I have experienced the vile and deeply divisive racist policies that have existed in our country for hundreds of years:  

  1. I am tired of asking myself “Am I enough?”
  2. I am tired of looking around my workspaces and seeing a small number of faces that look like mine, AND not seeing my likeness reflected at the executive leadership levels
  3. Honestly…., I am tired of being tired  
Had to create my own mini teleprompter

There is a “fierce urgency of now” for all of us to make meaningful changes to improve our organizations.

The road ahead is going to be long, challenging, and at times difficult. My ask of you is to believe in the destination and the positive outcomes along the way.

We are the change we have been waiting for“.

We will have PRIDE in ourselves.

We will be PROUD of our collective accomplishments.

Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In closing, the Multicultural BRG and I, want to thank you for your support in building a better Dentsu.

I would like to welcome Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson back to Dentsu today.

Many of you, remember that she joined us two weeks ago at our Community Forum and many of you have also reached out to her since.

For those of you meeting her for the first time, she is a professor of humanities in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and the author of “Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.”  

She took time to meet with Jacki and me Monday so that we could share what Jacki and the senior leaders presented today. 

Dr Kellie Carter Jackson has been a great sounding board and offered insight into what she is witnessing around us.  

I am going to turn the forum over to her; so that she can share some of that insight. 

She will also be available for Questions, as part of our Q&A at the end of the Town Hall.  Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson

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