Message From President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley: WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!

The African American male’s narrative of injustice in this nation is like no other narrative of any ethnic group. More traumatic life-threatening incidents are revealing the inequities people of color experience within the justice system and the vast number of events throughout our nation in which racial profiling has led to the death of innocent Black men. We must accept this truth and face this undeserved reality. We simply cannot afford to be episodic in our efforts to address the legacy of race and race relations in America. Is it coincident that Black men from all walks of life in various states and cities across the country share the same account of their experience with people assuming the worst of them? In my opinion, this chronicle of reality is all too common and too widespread to be a mere coincidence. WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!

Today’s uprising for justice across the globe has revived a greater sense of urgency to break down barriers that divide us. The world is watching and taking note of how this nation will handle its unfinished business around race relations. The notion of purity of motive is challenged in law enforcement, communities, and businesses. The constant devaluing of humanity through violence hinders people’s ability to present their authentic selves without prejudice. The world heard an innocent Black Man, George Floyd, cry out for his mother as an officer pressed his knee on his neck, and his breath was taken away. Many mothers are sharing the heartbreak of anguish for the life of this Black son. They continue to have the burden of telling their sons that there are people in this world who don’t value Black male life. A conversation
they never want to have but know they must. WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!

The problem at hand is not with the law itself; it is with the inequitable enforcement of the law. The victims of excessive force at the hands of corrupt law enforcement officers work at our offices, attend our schools, play on our playgrounds, shop at the local bodega, go bird watching, and yes, they jog along our streets. The imbalance is so prevalent that White women use racist impulses to invoke harm on innocent Black people hanging out by the pool, having a family cookout, watching birds, and walking down the street. This legacy of racist power passed on from generation to generation has plagued Black men dating back to slavery. Where is the outcry to stop this racist behavior? WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!

The American Conference on Diversity is dedicated to educating and empowering leaders to promote respect among all people. The American Conference is working to increase the opportunities for open, honest dialogue that leads to more inclusive and thoughtful leadership. It takes boldness to speak up and take action. We must hold ourselves accountable for the roles we play in sustaining systemic and institutional oppression, but we also must look at the collective responsibility we have to work together. Hate shows up in our silence just as much as it does in our actions. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch these injustices happen; we must become advocates for justice and make things happen. WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!

If you are looking for a way to get involved and do something, we encourage you to join the American Conference on Diversity in our fight against bias, bigotry, and racism. You can pay forward your passion for justice and help transform lives. Social media has expanded our ability to see, in real-time, acts of injustice, and the cries for justice. As leaders and people of goodwill, we must take up the torch for justice in our individual lives and join forces with others that are passionate. Our call to action is best captured in the following quote of Hillel, a first-century Jewish scholar, “If not you then who? If not now, then when?” WE MUST DEMAND BETTER!