As I witness the unfolding scenes of unrest and violence in the United States, my heart breaks. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more innocent Black lives, are a symptom of deeply institutionalized racism that exists ubiquitously. As each death transpires, we find spirit and action in the digital world — and then there’s another name that rings, reverberates, and is added to the long, long list of others.
We thought the world stopped with COVID-19, but as protests and fury seen on the streets propel us into an ever-changing lifestyle, we have been proven wrong. As a result of the explosion of simultaneous racial, health, economic, and climate crises, we are beginning another era of uncertainty.
Actor John Boyega said at a protest in Hyde Park, London, we don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, and we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved.
He’s right. We don’t know what our fallen Black brothers and sisters could have become, but we do know what we as a society are capable of. If we consistently work toward justice and equality, together we will enact real change.
As a communications organization, we will continue to use our platform to speak out on issues of racism and injustice. We will also create programs and workshops to educate members and help navigate change as well as share programs offered by PRSA.
On Thursday, June 4 at 11 a.m., PRSA will host a webinar, “Responding to Racial Injustice With Change and Healing.” Webinar panelists will share insights and best practices that can guide communicators in critical conversations to ensure that real change happens.
You can register for the session here. The session will also be available to view as a recording later on.
Of course, I want to hear your stories, too. As proposed in our statement, change begins with us. The key to this change is education. Fortunately, PRSSA is a great educational hub for students looking to learn more about not only D&I in communications, but also about each other.
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any stories, ideas, tools, and resources you’d like to share. I want to be a resource for you, and you for me. In this new era, let’s continue to learn together.
PRSSA is asking you to use your voice when it’s needed the most. If you’re looking for ways to help, visit and share the tips and resources below.
- Expand your networks
- Work harder to foster human connections that will build bridges where differences may have once existed
- Calmly address any microaggressions you hear from friends and family
- Reach out to your Black friends and diversity champions and offer support
- Create sustainable, joint efforts that will inspire change
If you want to initiate profound conversations and reflect, use these prompts:
- In what ways does my proximity to whiteness afford me privileges that aren’t extended to Black and Brown people?
- In what ways have I been conditioned to believe in the superiority of whiteness?
- In what ways have I engaged in rhetoric that promotes othering or stereotyping of Black people?
- What can I do to better educate myself on the historical context of race in the country and community I exist in?
(All written by @jezzchung)
If you’re Asian or South Asian (like myself) and want to help:
- Follow @southasians4blacklives on Instagram
If you want to support
If you’re looking for more, this Google Doc helps answer your questions about what’s going on currently, what you can do, and how you can educate yourself further. Another great site, https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#, has compiled petitions, donation funds, and other direct ways to help.
Haniya N. Shariff is the PRSSA 2020-2021 vice president of diversity and inclusion. A recent graduate of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, she hopes to build interpersonal networks and create diversity and inclusion initiatives in the healthcare and hospital PR industries. Follow her on Twitter @HaniyaShariff and connect with her on LinkedIn.