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We Must Do Better

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We are in the middle of a series on the type of content you can create at different levels of the funnel. and we will continue that conversation next week. I feel the need to stop for a moment and address current events. 

I’ve always had a sense of justice and felt everybody should be treated equally. Those words that are at the end of the pledge of allegiance, “with liberty and justice for all”, shouldn’t just be something we say mindlessly. They should be something we live by and it should apply to all of us. There shouldn’t be any exceptions based on skin color, sexuality, or religion. 

I grew up in a small town. I read the newspaper and watched the evening news. I had an awareness of what was going on in the world but it just didn’t always feel real to me. This is not to say I didn’t think they what I was seeing was real but so much of what I saw wasn’t what saw or experienced in my life.

When I was still a kid I moved to the Los Angeles area. It was a very eye-opening experience. All of sudden so many of these things that I saw on the news that didn’t feel quite real were playing out in front of me. 

My move was only a few months after the 1992 riots in relation to the Rodney King beating by four Los Angeles police officers. There was a federal trial in early 1993 and I remember the anxiety that filled the city in April of that year as it was announced that there was a verdict. You could literally feel the city hold it’s breath as it waited for what was to come. 

At this point, many of my friends had very different backgrounds than mine. Some of my friends were first-generation Americans. Some had different religious backgrounds and some of them had a different color of skin.

There was a lot of diversity in LA. I like learning and growing as a person so I enjoyed it. I liked listening to the stories my friends would tell about their families and culture but of course, some of those stories had a dark side too. 

I lived in the San Fernando Valley and there was one Saturday afternoon where I and a couple of my friends were driving down to Venice. 

Driving in LA is interesting because while there may be a speed limit, traffic is the real dictator of how fast you can drive. This day the traffic was light so I was speeding. I was doing at least 70 in an area where the speed limit was 55. 

One of my friends really wanted me to slow down and I just laughed him off. I didn’t understand the ”why” behind his request. He kept asking me to slow it down and my other friend says, “Dude don’t worry. It will be fine. Shane’s driving. He’s white.”

The response was something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, you’re right.”

I have to be honest. I wasn’t sure how I should feel in that moment. Years later I get it but at that time I was very naive. 

I found out later that my worried friend had a couple of negative experiences and was afraid of the police. As time rolled on I heard more stories from my friends of color and their experiences of prejudice, racism, and hate. They were great friends and I loved them. I was appalled and sad at the things they experienced. 

I’m not going to stand here and tell you that because I’ve had friends that have experienced prejudice and racism that I understand what those who have a different skin color experience on a day to day basis. I don’t and I never will completely because I’m white. 

I’m not naive enough to believe that everything is going to magically change tomorrow, next week, or even a decade from now. Unfortunately, these toxic ideas will likely always exist at some level but that doesn’t mean we should accept them. We should always fight them.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1st, 1863. For decades after this African-Americans would be treated as second class citizens. Many were terrorized because of one reason: their skin was black.

Those same issues still exist.

There are many companies out there right now who are doing different things. Some are talking about these issues and how they impact the lives of African-Americans. Some are sharing resources so we can better educate ourselves. Some are sharing ways we can address the inequities and injustice within our systems and some are doing a little bit of all of that. 

There isn’t one road we must all take.  We may all be in different lanes but we are working towards the same goals. Don’t demonize those who are on the same side. Be kind to those who are working towards a common goal but are doing it in a different way than you are. 

We still have a long way to go. African-Americans are still experiencing prejudice, racism, and hate. This has to stop. We can and must and do better. 

Shane Carpenter
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