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How Will Your SME Respond to Racism?

My daughters are older than Breonna Taylor would have been today had she lived to see her 27th birthday. #SayHerName. I love them and would die for them.

I coach CEOs of SMEs.

So what does Breonna Taylor have to do with small businesses?

Quoted in a New York Times article, Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, was right to be proud of her daughter, who “had her head on straight,” and “had big dreams and plans.”

She no longer has the option of starting a business in the healthcare industry. But she was everything that a successful small business owner starts out being. Huge potential, developed and committed to bring good into the world.

Her life was cut short by injustice. As a mother of young adult daughters, my heart aches for Tamika Palmer. I have no words that can begin to offer the comfort that mothers know can only come from seeing your daughter alive and well. My heart hurts for the world that is less than it used to be, because she is gone.

I’m going to spend an hour in silence later today, crying out to God for mercy and justice for Breona and her mom and loved ones, for every mother who has lost a son or daughter to racial injustice, and for a world which accepts “less than we could be” by not actively working to end racism.

During the protests this week rioters have hurt some small businesses. Some may not recover. Smart small business owners are responding the way they do. They’re cleaning up, engaging community, bringing value. They’re sticking with their commitments and increasing the goodness in the world. They don’t turn away from injustice.

Safia Munye is a small business owner who understands the need for justice. Her restaurant, Mama Safia’s Kitchen, in South Minneapolis, was burned during a riot protesting deaths of George Floyd and Breona Taylor and many others.

In an article by Leila Fadel in NPR.org, Leila quotes Safia’s response, one of grace and love:

“‘My heart is broken. My mind is broken,” she [Safia]says. “I know I can’t come back from this. But this can be replaced. George’s life cannot. George’s life was more important. That man that got killed in the most inhumane way. I hope he gets justice.”

I’ve seen corporate America’s social media posts and emails this week. I’ve seen many announcements from for-profit and nonprofit organizations standing with #BlackLivesMatter. I’ve seen reports from SME owners of Diversity & Inclusion(D&I) consulting businesses about the rush of requests for anti-racism workshops, just weeks after businesses couldn’t fit them in the budget and even laid off D&I staff. I’ve seen posts from black people including one from Michael J.A. Davis to help white and non-black people understand and know what to do in this time. And I will do what I can.

I’ve also seen “Business as Usual” from many companies large and small. Not knowing what to do or say, they’ve done and said nothing.

What touched my heart most this week as a coach to SME owners was the response of business owners like Safia who understand that human life is precious.

There is no reason to lose any more Breonas or Floyds.

Old beliefs no longer serve SMEs if they contain a hint of racism.

So I am using this post to encourage any reader to let go of any belief that doesn’t further justice for everyone. Business is made up of people. That’s me, and you. We need to do more to stop needless loss.

There is no room for racism in SMEs, or anywhere.

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Copyright 2016 - Christine Rose  Coaching & Consulting