Listen

To the youngster talking nonsense, Zeno said: ‘The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.’

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 7.1.23

Just like the storied fish who doesn’t know what water is, my white privilege has been invisible to me for 50 years.

This is why the Black community, in response to so many like me wanting to do something, is asking us first to educate ourselves and to truly listen. There are books on racism and white privilege. There are documentaries and films. There are podcasts. We must take ownership of our education.

In a recent open letter, my CEO explained how, after truly listening to some of our company’s senior-most Black leaders, he understood the importance of – wait for it – more listening. In his words:

So, what comes next? […] What comes next is an intense weeks-long period of listening. I, my senior leadership team and managers across our enterprise will now canvass our global footprint to hear directly from our Black colleagues and others who face discrimination in our communities. And then, we will build a plan for action. A plan that will turn ideas into results. A plan that will help drive near- and long-term societal change.

So let us all educate ourselves and listen. Listen to our relatives, our friends, our neighbors and our communities. We all know someone who faces discrimination on a daily basis. Let us listen to them, so that we may replace cruelty with humanity.

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