Former FBI Agent's Call to Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders: Love Is the Cure for Social Injustice
Some of my friends in law enforcement don't want to use the word. But let's call it what it is: Murder. That's what Derek Chauvin did to Mr. Floyd, in my opinion.
"He had drugs in his system." "He was passing fake $20 bills." "He had a criminal record."
These have been some of the justifications repeated by a few of my law-enforcement friends and colleagues about former officer Chauvin's heinous act, but there is no justification, so let's acknowledge it for what it is. And once we acknowledge it, then it is our responsibility to take action. All of us must play a role in the solutions, including — or perhaps especially — our business community.
Approximately a dozen years ago, my former wife and I co-founded the nonprofit organization Dedication To Community, also known as D2C, to address some of today's most pressing societal issues, including the tensions that exist between law enforcement and the communities served. Through education and guidance in the areas of policy reform and communications strategies, we are uniquely positioned to effect change, and this is a matter of life and death.
The D2C family trains law-enforcement officers to serve better, not to police better. I don't use the word "police" as a verb. It's not in my vocabulary. We concentrate our curricula on cultural awareness, implicit bias, de-escalation and wellness —vital information for those in authority. We also educate and engage with communities. Along with law enforcement, we work with members of society to position them for success; to educate them about how to interact with law enforcement in successful ways.
And that's why so many people called me. Because I have committed my life to these issues; dedicated my existence to building relationships and facilitating solutions for individuals and organizations across this nation and beyond. I wrote a book about these issues and, after all, I am also an entrepreneur. Place a problem in front of me and, with all humility, I will find a way to solve it.
The avalanche of phone calls started seven days after Memorial Day on June 1, 2020. Seven days after the death of George Floyd. I received these calls non-stop from family members, friends, colleagues and associates who asked me two simple questions, all with the same focus: "What do I do?" and "what are the solutions?"
In my mind, the answer is very clear, and education is the key. That is, to start, lead us and no longer accept silence as a part of the equation. When you see injustice, call it out and make folks accountable. Refrain from complicitous behavior and, most of all, embrace the responsibility of being the one who heads up this movement.
Additionally, ensure that you are listening beautifully to those who are screaming for justice. Learn from them and understand the reason for their perspectives. They are in pain.
Lastly, acknowledge our history and why we are embroiled in these current circumstances, and take action with vulnerability and courage so that relationships can be built and restored — relationships that must be constructed with trust as a foundation.
This answer is not rocket science. As my former Boston College football teammate Blake Galvin often says, "It's simple, but it ain't easy." The remedies for our societal ills are not going to work by just throwing money at the problem. Yes, money is needed by those who are doing the work, but money alone will not cure this disease of dysfunction. There must be sustainable long-term strategies in place that reveal the hearts of our society members. Sameness must be acknowledged while, at the same time, differences are embraced.
So here is my call to action for our business leaders: Educate yourselves and those whom you are leading. Step into your vulnerability with purpose and be deliberate about your selected course of action. Tell your stories of challenges and struggle. You will connect to those with whom you might not fully understand, those with whom you might see stark differences. These relationships will determine the destiny of our society.
This is a long-game approach, and band-aids are no longer acceptable, as they are certainly not effective solutions for our divisions. In order to live as one community, we must love as one, too.
M. Quentin Williams is an attorney, author and in-demand international speaker. His background as a former FBI agent and former federal prosecutor, as well as being a former sports executive, has been invaluable as he assists the business community to understand the societal landscape during these times of heightened unrest. Quentin's book, A Survival Guide: How NOT To Get KILLED By The Police, has been critically acclaimed by law enforcement and communities alike, as a guide for all generations.