The horrible tragedy that just took place in Charleston, SC has troubled me so much so, that I decided to share a very thoughtful and powerful message from a dear friend of mine, who lives in Charleston.
Bruce Johnson, a former pastor, is a dear friend who many years ago read my book, A Setback Is A Setup For A Comeback. He invited me to speak at his church and over the years, we’ve become good friends. When he lived in Washington, DC, we would have lunch once a month at our favorite sushi restaurant. We’d talk about ideas and how to positively impact more people. Bruce is White and I am Black, but we shared a brotherhood and friendship that transcends color. After their children were grown, Bruce and his wife relocated to Charleston, SC. Dee and I have visited them, and as always, he and I sat and talked about ideas and how to positively impact people.
This morning, Bruce sent this message to his network and I am compelled to share it with you!
Please read Bruce’s message and share it with your network. If we do, we will be able to make a difference and not sit on the sidelines and wait for the next tragedy to occur. As I think about how we must respond to evil, it reminds me of a piece from Pastor Martin Niemöller who wrote about how the German people ignored the evil of Nazism, as long as it didn’t impact them. Then one day it did impact them! Pastor Niemöller wrote:
First they came for the Social Democrats, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Social Democrat.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Please share this post with your network and let’s all work to root out evil wherever we see it! God Bless You!
Bruce Johnson’s Message
By now you’ve probably heard, but in case
you didn’t, last evening around 9:00 p.m. EST
a young white man walked into a historic black
church here in Charleston, S.C., Emmanuel
AME Church, and killed nine people (including
the pastor) who were holding a prayer meeting
at the time.
In light of that, it just feels wrong this morning to
send you the blog post I had written for you
yesterday. I’ll send it later.
Instead, I want to encourage you to do four things
1. If you’re a person of faith and believe in prayer,
would you take a moment to pray for the families
that were effected by this senseless act, the people
of Emmanuel AME church, and that this wouldn’t
be an act that divides us as a community, but unites
us and enhances race relations throughout
Charleston and the south. That would be greatly
2. Would you take a moment to simply consider if
you have any pockets of racism in you (and then
root them out). After spending decades working
with lots of people, I’ve discovered that almost all
of us have some pockets of racism in us. It usually
comes out in “them” or “they” language. “That’s for
them.” Or, “They always do that.” Etc.
This isn’t a white issue. Or a black issue. Or an asian
issue. Or a hispanic/latino issue. We all have some
beliefs that separate us. I used to think I didn’t have
issues with race until a black friend asked me, years
ago, when my eldest daughter was maybe six or
seven, “So, how many books have you bought for your
daughter where the family that’s illustrated is black?”
He got me. When I analyzed why that was it dawned
on me that when I went to the store (pre-Amazon),
I subconsciously must have thought, “That is for
them. This is for me.”
So, if you, like me, discover that you have some
pockets of racism in you, will you use today as a
chance to bring them out into the light of day and
change them. Embrace “we” and “us” language over
“they” and “them” because we’re all in this together
and no one race is better than any other.
Rooting out racism always begins with us.
3. Would you use this as a moment to make sure
your business is a model of acceptance and racial
equality/diversity? As business leaders, we can’t
change everything, but we can control our businesses
and ensure that they’re not completely single raced
(or single gendered).
While our nation has made some significant strides
since the 1960’s, we still have a long way to go on
the race relations front, as this past year, and last
evening have reminded us.
4. Would you be a bridge builder and peacemaker
today? Will you make a conscious decision, even
today, to reach out to someone of a different race
and be a friend. If each of us, as leaders, models
that kind of lifestyle, we can at least make some
dents in our little parts of the universe.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, for being a
part of the Wired To Grow community and for being
part of the solution!
To your accelerated success!