Written by Guest Author: Nancy A. Ruffin
It has been a really rough year so far. As we head into our third month of quarantine because of Covid-19, America finds itself fighting yet another illness, that which is White supremacy. Racism is embedded into the fabric of this country. Beginning in the 17th century, millions of African people were kidnapped, enslaved, and shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas under horrific conditions. Nearly two million people died at sea during the agonizing journey.
For the next two centuries, the enslavement of black people in the United States created wealth, opportunity, and prosperity for millions of Americans. As American slavery evolved, an elaborate and enduring mythology about the inferiority of black people was created to legitimate, perpetuate, and defend slavery. The effects of this part of our history is what drives and reinforces the systematic oppression, dehumanization, and brutalization of Black people in this country.
The murder of George Floyd by ex-officer Derek Cheuvin sparked a wildfire of rage across the country. Black people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It is traumatizing and exhausting seeing video after video of Black men, women, and children being murdered by law enforcement or vigilante private citizens claiming to stand their ground because they perceive Blackness as a threat. Yet here we are, again, a community grappling with racial injustice trying to determine what steps we need to take to stop these incidents from occurring; another body, another murder, another day of hashtags and another name to add to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The time has come for all of us to pick a side. You’re either actively working towards ending racism or you’re not. This country is at a point where all of us must participate in dismantling a system that was created to oppress Black people. Protests in all 50 states and in countries like France, England, Australia and so many others are proof that the racist system our country was built upon has to be destroyed. It’s not enough to change it. We have to dismantle it and create a new system that is rooted in justice, equality, and equity for all. All lives cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.
As a Puerto Rican woman married to a Black-American man raising Black daughters, I have a responsibility to them and all Black people to fight for a system that is just. And though I am a person of color I recognize I am not Black. While I may experience other forms of injustice, I will never know what it’s like to walk in Black skin. However, not knowing what it means to be Black will not stop me from fighting with and for Black people.
We must all stand united in the collective fight against police violence and racism in this country. As we continue to fight against white supremacy and the system that supports it, now more than ever we need leaders across all businesses, industries, and political positions who are bold, innovative, steadfast, and committed to doing the hard-difficult work that will unite instead of divide. In a time where remaining silent is no longer an option, it’s important for each of us to take personal inventory of how we’re using our own platforms, voices, and brands to be change agents. We must disavow the systemic racism that has historically pervaded and eroded the landscape of our country. As I continue to dig into ways I can personally support and contribute to the fight against systemic racism and oppression I am holding up the mirror and challenging myself to do more. I encourage you to do the same.
Nancy A. Ruffin is a 4x award winning writer and empowerment coach committed to empowering women to discover their purpose and live their best lives. As a modern thought leader, success coach, and transformation expert she works with individuals committed to career success and leadership development. Her nearly 20 years of experience as a business professional in the Health Care industry leading large teams & driving performance improvement initiatives has allowed her to use her leadership, communication, & team building skills to engage & develop the next generation of corporate leaders.
Visit her website here.