This is a personal statement from Brad Hilliard, APR. Brad is the current President of the PRSA Oregon chapter. He is making a personal pledge and asking fellow communications professionals to join him.
2020 PRSA National Chair, T. Garland Stansell, APR, recently provided a heartfelt commentary to members on the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. He, like many of us, realize our reactions to these horrible events are not enough. It is time for all of us to pause and reflect on how we can create equality in our current world.
As I considered these recent tragedies, I realized something that struck me deeply. Creating equality starts by identifying the source of the problem.
It is easy to say, “I’m not racist.”
It is easy to be disgusted by the images we have seen recently. It is easy to point fingers and scream injustice. It is easy to get on social media, get mad at viewpoints we do not agree with, and use these platforms to express our own opinions.
It is easy to say what we have to say and return to our regularly scheduled lives.
Unfortunately, easy is part of the problem. These easy routes help us process the anger, frustration, or grief we are feeling in that moment, but it does not generate change. It does not create equality. All it creates is a society that is quick to speak, quick to judge, and slow to listen.
George Floyd’s unnecessary death has opened my eyes. I am ashamed to admit that it took this much for me to truly see how deep the roots of inequality run in every corner of the world. His death has revealed that we will not realize true equality until we look inward and admit, “I am the problem.”
We may not be racist, but we have biases. Some are so ingrained in our DNA that we do not even realize it.
We may not disrespect people for the way they look or think, but we rarely engage people if they make us uncomfortable.
We may act on causes we are passionate about, but we rarely help others when we do not see or relate to their plight.
Currently, I am a foster dad to a toddler. He is a black boy. George Floyd’s tragic experience has caused me to look at this little guy and wonder what it will take for him to enjoy the freedom, stability, and privilege that I have experienced.
I will not be the problem any longer. I will not take the easy path. I am making a pledge, and I am asking others to join me. I believe this pledge is for anyone ready to make a commitment to equality. This pledge is important for communications professionals and leaders because we are in a position to influence the change necessary for all of us to experience equality.
I encourage you to read the pledge, reflect on your personal beliefs, and commit to no longer taking the easy path. Commit to not be the problem any longer. My hope is that many of you will join me in the pledge. Especially those with a voice to make a difference.
The pledge to create equality
- I pledge to do more than promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. I pledge to embody it and use my role to create an environment where all voices are heard and everyone is respected.
- I pledge to engage others in meaningful conversation, to personally learn and grow from their experiences and wisdom. Especially those with different backgrounds and experiences than me.
- I pledge to empower my organization’s leaders to be honest with people, engage in the needs of our communities, and listen to people. Especially those without a voice.
- I pledge to not be complacent. I will actively use my influence to help my community. Especially those with different backgrounds than me.
That is my pledge. It is easy to say, but takes a daily commitment to stop being the problem, and help us all realize equality. My hope is that you will join me in this pledge.
To join this pledge, sign this petition and share it with family, friends, and coworkers. From there, the day-to-day commitment begins.
This is the first step – to look inward and understand we are the problem. From there we can finally begin to stand together.
Have a blessed day,
Brad Hilliard, APR
June 1, 2020