George Floyd’s death will change America. Whether that change is lasting and systemic is up to us. If we don’t seize this moment of racist, senseless killing to push for change, new growth will never happen. If we don’t protect our peaceful protests and step away from those rioting, we will lose the momentum that is gathering. We are angry, and we are tired. But history has shown the great resolve of our people. George Floyd cried out to his mother during his last minutes on earth. The hearts of every African American man and woman broke at that very moment. We have been devastated by the pandemic and our human rights have been brutally assaulted. We have definitely been shaken to our core. But – still we rise, because we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and we know that “Change is Gonna Come.”
Basis Impact Group (BIG Foundation) is crying out to you, especially those in the majority. Hear our voice and to advocate for the change that can ONLY happen if we fight together against systemic racism in George’s name. Racism affects all of us, so let’s walk together along the following path:
- VOTE. Everyone with a protest sign or spirit must embrace “new” tools for change. Exercise your right as if your life depends on it, because it does.
- REPRESENTATION. National and local inclusive representation in government, economic policy, health and safety is necessary.
- COLLABORATION. We must take the unilateral outpouring of disdain and turn it into unilateral transformation for all.
- INCLUSION. The wealth and health disparities personified by this moment must translate to improvement.
George Floyd’s death was not only racist, it was economic. If he possessed a “real” $20 bill, he might be alive today. It was not possible because the odds were stacked against him and many others like him because of the grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth in this country. Until we exercise our right to VOTE, demand REPRESENTATION, work in COLLABORATION and commit to INCLUSION, we cannot kill the roots of the institutionalized RACISM and EVIL that we are experiencing.
Our collective goal of transformation applies to all, but The BIG Foundation calls on the commercial real estate industry, in particular, to examine what our industry can do. Look at your own boards, leadership teams, governance, programs and hiring practices. Apply the same filter that will change America. Commercial real estate is a legacy business largely built on closed networks that have historically excluded black and brown people. Access to capital is harder for us. If you don’t hire, partner or invest with African American CRE professionals, ask yourself why? And do something today to change it. The CRE community has the power to make communities of color thrive if we partner.
Now is the time to honestly evaluate what is and is not working. Unconscious bias affects even the most educated and enlightened among us. With the filter of Representation, Collaboration and Inclusion, really look at your company. Ask yourself how you can improve your small piece of America. If we all embrace change, we can prevent moments like these. This will not happen overnight, but it will not happen at all…if we don’t start somewhere.
In the words of Sam Cook back in 1963, “It’s been a long, long time coming, but change is gonna come.” Well, the time is now. We are here to partner with you. Let’s make it happen together!
Tammy K Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Basis Investment Group
Chairman, Basis Impact Group Foundation