An Optimal Response

Enjoy The Work blog post. An optimal response.

I was asked by a founder this week, looking for support, “Any chance you guys have guidance to companies on an optimal black lives matter response?”

Short answer. We don’t. Not even close.

I don’t even know what optimal in this circumstance means. What is the optimal response to racism laid bare? What is the optimal response to a public assassination? What is the optimal response to what feels like a system of injustice impenetrable to protests of every form and elections of every era?

I’m numb. I don’t want to feel this way. But I do. It’s how my heart and mind have chosen to protect me from current events. If I don’t feel them, I can stay out of danger. But staying out of danger when others are suffering is the mistake I and so many would-be allies have made for far too long.

I need to feel at least a fraction of what my African American colleagues feel. They suffer in a system where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are routinely stolen from them. It’s a system that is killing them.

I’m watching videos. I’m speaking with friends. I’m speaking with family. I’m speaking with my partners. I’m trying to expand my knowledge. The knowledge that forces me to face the uncomfortable.

I have felt so much guilt this week. This post was hard to write. I’m a tall white man raised in an upper middle-class suburban neighborhood by loving parents. I won the lottery. I’ve never experienced danger, suspicion, or hatred due to the color of my skin, the sound of my voice, or the spelling of my name. I’m Jewish. And while I know Jews have faced hardship and persecution since time immemorial, in this country, we don’t face anything like what people of color experience.

I keep coming back to the question — what is an optimal response? I have no idea, but I am trying to learn. I am learning the difference between not being racist and actually living an anti-racist life. A life where I no longer am a sad, silent spectator and one where in small incremental ways, I contribute to a better future.

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