I feel a little scared to write to you about this, which tells me that it's time.
I'm sharing a post that is, admittedly, not about the work we do. It is, rather, about the context in which we (in America) do our work. These words first appeared on my personal Facebook page, but I've decided to publish them here for a few reasons:
- Racial justice is inextricably related to the context of work in America, thanks to our beginnings as a slave economy. We need to reckon with this.
- Because I'm a business ethicist, I can't shy away from addressing economic inequality, and race is inextricably woven with those issues.
- Problems of justice influence my thinking deeply, and anyone "following" my ideas has a right to know that.
- I feel a little scared to write to you about this, which tells me that it's time.
So there you have it. I'm talking to you about racial justice today, and it's the most important work I'm going to do. Thanks for hearing me (and Bob Marley) out.
I've been searching for something to say about #philandocastile that might honor his life, cry foul at his death, and somehow bridge the ugly partisan lines we've drawn between ourselves on this subject. (Those lines, as I'm sure you know, will never map neatly onto the issues that should matter most to us, i.e. justice, peace, and love.)
Anyhow, I'm at a loss for the right words, so instead I'm going amplify a song of freedom from Bob Marley. "I Shot the Sheriff" has been on my mind all day. I heard it earlier, for the first time in a while, and in a sense for the first time ever.
"Sheriff John Brown always hated me
For what I don't know
Every time that I plant a seed
He said, "Kill it before it grows"
He said, "Kill it before it grows", I say
I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense..."
If you poke around, you'll see that folks don't agree on what these lyrics mean. But today, to my ear, they issue a cry for justice in a corrupt system that ultimately harms both the victim and the perpetrator. They admonish us by invoking a black man's need for self defense against those who are sworn to protect him. And they convey his anguish.
I hope you can hear it.
"Freedom came my way one day
And I started out of town
All of a sudden I see sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down."
Oscar Grant III.
John Crawford III.
Timothy Stansbury Jr.
"Every day the bucket goes to the well
But one day the bottom will drop out
Yes, one day, the bottom will drop out."