A Message from McKinley president & CEO Jay Younger on recent events across the country.
Another senseless killing of a black man at the hands of the police. The murder of a black woman in her own home. A manufactured 911 call citing a nonexistent threat. All of this on top of the huge toll the pandemic is taking on members of the black community whom, at least here in DC, are five times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. The world around us feels incredibly bleak.
Yet painfully, this is nothing new for us in the U.S. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are just a few of the most recent and explicit examples of centuries of systemic injustice and inequality. For millions of our fellow citizens, not a day goes by when the most insidious and reprehensible form of hatred — institutional racism — can be ignored, forgotten, or forgiven. It is too familiar an enemy.
Justifiable pain and anguish are spilling over in cities across the country. All of us have a responsibility to stand up, speak out and give back — not only in the work we do, but in the way we live as human beings. But where do we begin? Personally, I am considering these events through a framework that sparks powerful change and action: Span of concern, influence, and control.
The span of concern represents sharing — sharing candidly the feelings of grief I have for the victims, the individuals that have to wake up and deal with these problems every day, and the families who have lost loved ones amid a vacuum of national leadership. I also feel shame. Those of us in privileged positions have all the necessary means to make changes in our society and the fact that we have not yet accomplished more is embarrassing.
For me, the span of influence starts with leadership, and having the courage and conviction to speak up and do what is right. As leaders we must hold each other accountable to reexamine the hypocrisy and hatred that underlies these tragedies and eviscerate the thinking that underpins them, including our own. And, all successful leaders know that in order to gain understanding we must listen — even to things that make us uncomfortable. We must consider how to increase our impact, starting by engaging in the tough work to grow together without fear of making mistakes along the way.
Finally, within my span of control I can give, and I can do better. I know that there are institutions and individuals who have the expertise, resources, and vision to make an impact in a way that far exceeds my own efforts and knowledge. Going forward I will support them to my fullest ability because the lasting change we seek will only come when we all look in the mirror, challenge our own privileges, and change our behaviors — not just now and not just when it’s convenient.
At McKinley, we are committed to taking action beyond words to be better allies to our black colleagues and communities. We are dedicated as a firm and as individuals to supporting, learning, educating, and changing, not just in this moment, but for the long haul. While we may not know all the answers, we can all start by acknowledging what we see in front of us in plain sight and commit to speaking up and showing up. We have the power to push on the lever of equality, the one that is still taking generations and generations to move, only to have it lurch back. This is no time to look the other way. Let’s use our collective power and push.