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Reflections on Racial Justice: Part X – Hope?

A recent Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News featured an article by business columnist Cheryl Hall on “Economic Inclusiveness.”  It contains brief comments by corporate, non-profit, and entrepreneur leaders that addressed whether 2020 will “go down in history as the year Dallas businesses started a new chapter in economic inclusiveness” or whether it will “prove to be just a blip in social consciousness brought on by the horrifying death of George Floyd.”  The leaders’ comments are buoyant, typical of Dallas’s business community.  They cite meaningful dialog, black people investing in themselves, the diverse group in local key decision-making positions, unprecedented energy and collaboration, the increasingly diverse population that makes up the local business talent and customer pools, and white people who have “gone from passive acknowledgment to vocal anti-racism.”

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Reflections on Racial Justice: Part IX – After John Lewis

A voice of skepticism belonged to Ron Kirk, the Black former mayor of Dallas and former United States Trade Representative under President Obama.  He currently is senior counsel in a prominent law firm and a board member of the Dallas Citizens Council.  Kirk goes right to the underlying problems:

  • Housing for minority families.
  • Access to capital for young Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.
  • Doing business with minority-owned firms: “If we’re good enough to be on the chamber or the symphony board, why am I not good enough to be the first call that you make when it’s time to do business?”
  • Developing local talent: “Why do we struggle to see the value of having everyone in the city contributing to our economic growth?”
  • Income inequality: “I still don’t understand why people think that it’s healthy to have a city where all of the wealth and all of the tax base is concentrated in less than a third of the city.”

Others that Hall surveyed would include the “targeted mistreatment of young black men” and “the disparity with online education” to this list.  Kirk concludes, “This can be more than a moment if we are serious about addressing the underlying issues . . . This has to stop being seen as a sum-zero game.”

Another journalist, The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, explains why Cheryl Hall’s choice between a new chapter and a blip is so tough:  “the lived experiences of Black Americans and White Americans lead to such different perspectives.”  Seib describes these differences more succinctly than I ever could.

Today, many white people don’t see how there can be systemic racism when the nation put its most sweeping civil rights laws into effect more than half a century ago when affirmative action policies have been implemented to address past inequities, when a Black man has been elected president—and, above all, when most white people genuinely believe they aren’t racists themselves.  America, they tend to believe, has made more genuine progress fighting racism than any nation on earth.

To many Black people, that also is all true, but not the whole story.  They see the ways that the country’s racist past has built into its social and economic systems deep underlying inequities that still exist, long after the attitudes that created them in the first place may have changed.  These effects are at once both subtle and more far-reaching.  (July 28, 2020)

In the next few Reflections, I’ll explore things I’ve learned about talent development in a quarter-century doing that work and how they apply to the current situation.

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Frank Lloyd
Frank Lloyd
Dr. Frank Lloyd is a board member and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Chair for Literacy Achieves, a Dallas, Texas-based non-profit that teaches English as a second language to adult immigrants to facilitate their employment, parenting, and other life skills. He is the producer of Literacy Achieves’ podcast, When I Got Here: Untold Immigrant Stories where immigrants share inspiring personal stories of why they left their homelands, how they got to the U.S., and the lives they are making here. Dr. Lloyd is the former Associate Dean of Executive Education at Southern Methodist University's (SMU) Edwin L. Cox School of Business, where he led the development and delivery of award-winning executive leadership programs and established a national center of excellence on Latino leadership. Dr. Lloyd joined SMU’s Cox School from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, where he was Vice President of Executive Education. Prior to joining Thunderbird, Dr. Lloyd was a human resources executive with General Motors. Among the highlights of his career, he was responsible for organization development and leadership training for GM Europe during its transition from mass to lean production, and he was the first GM Human Resources manager at New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), the historic joint venture between GM and Toyota noted for its innovative labor-management relations and the introduction of the Toyota production system. Dr. Lloyd is an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of UNICON, the Global Consortium for University-based Executive Education. He is the former board chair of Daystar US which mobilizes resources to support Daystar, a non-denominational Christian university in Nairobi, Kenya whose mission is to prepare servant leaders for Africa. He also served on the national board of Inroads, an organization with the mission to develop and place talented underserved youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership. Dr. Lloyd was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Isfahan in Iran. He also served as a U.S. Information Agency curriculum consultant for Germany. He earned a master’s degree at Purdue University and a Ph. D. at the University of Iowa. His undergraduate degree is from Occidental College.

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