As a species, we are still quite primitive. Groups of people still try to find ways to feel superior over their neighbors. This is mostly driven by their own hangups and insecurities. In reality, there is only one race. We all came from the same, dark skinned mothers less than 800 generations ago. As people moved away from the equator, their skin tone evolved differently. That’s it.
I’m not Black and I can’t pretend to fully understand the strife of African-Americans. However, I was born into a Soviet Jewish family who then chose to escape to the US in large part due to antisemitism.
I was too young to have much first hand experience but my parents had plenty. The reverse of affirmative action: quota limits on how many Jews would be allowed into top universities, management, and government jobs (which were sought-after in those days). In the one kitchen, one bathroom communal apartment we shared with five families, our drunk neighbor broke bottles on our door screaming, “go back to Israel you filthy Jews.” There were also stories of pogroms from my grandparents’ days. And many many other examples.
I’m proud and fortunate to have close friends all over the world. Learning from this wide variety of cultures, experiences, accents, colors, and points of view is very important to me. For this reason, it is difficult for me to understand why many people fight their perception of “different” instead of embracing it.
Adjacent to a once-in-a-century global pandemic, we are living through an incredible civil rights moment. A great awakening where the hopeful amongst us are seeing an inflection point greater than in the summer of 1968. #MeToo provided a social media era template for #BlackLivesMatter and it feels like we are finally making progress.
To my dismay, I’m also realizing just how many otherwise successful, wise, and nice people are woefully undereducated on the history of being Black in America and institutional racism that still very much exists. Ironically, many of these people are immigrants who escaped similar experiences to my family’s but have seemingly forgotten that others still need help.
This week, I’m lending my platform in an effort to move the needle. I’ve compiled a short list of voices that have made an impact on me. Here is a bit of a curriculum on American Racism 101:
Netflix Feature: 13th
Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America.
National Geographic Feature: LA 92
Over twenty-five years after the verdict in the Rodney King trial sparked several days of protests and violence in Los Angeles, LA92 immerses viewers in that tumultuous period through stunning and rarely-seen footage. Produced by Oscar winner Simon Chinn and Emmy winner Jonathan Chinn and directed by Oscar winners Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, the film brings a fresh perspective to a pivotal moment and adds perspective to what we are seeing in the world today.
The massacre of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street”
8:46 — Dave Chappelle
John Oliver on Policing
Jimmy Kimmel on George Floyd, Riots in Minneapolis
Joyner Lucas — I’m Not Racist
Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop
An anonymous, former cop talks at length about problems that start on day one of police training. Read Article
Knee On The Neck: What Investors Can Learn From ‘Black Lives Matter’ – Gary Stewart
My good friend, Gary first Black editor of the Yale Law Journal, former head of Telefonica’s Wayra in Spain and UK, and former IE business school professor writes about his experience and view on how business needs to change. Read Article
I am exhausted and want you to know why – Michael H. Lints
My good friend, Michael an accomplished Dutch-born, Venture Capitalist in Singapore talks about the racism he’s experienced in travels around the world, including in Silicon Valley. And what he tells his young kids. Read Article
Defund the police – Haje Jan Kamps
My good friend and occasional collaborator, Haje who’s played many roles in his career. Including being a police officer, talks about his experience and what “Defund the police” means. Read Article
These are just a few pieces that made an impact on me. There are many many other stories out there. I hope you take the time to educate yourself and those close to you. We can’t let our foot off the accelerator of progress. And if you disagree, I’ll kindly ask you to keep it to yourself. You’ll see the light soon enough.
Thanks for your attention.