As I’m writing this, I hear the constant sounds of helicopters and police sirens outside my downtown Seattle apartment window. There’s been unimaginable chaos in the world this year with COVID-19 and now unrest across the country. We live in a unique time of uncertainty, filled by justifiable fear and anger. Fear of whether ourselves or our loved ones will be physically safe from a deadly virus. Fear of being treated like a criminal solely due to the complexion of our skin. Fear of things staying the same without progress or change. Those fears have justifiably morphed into anger and, unfortunately but understandably, violence.
What I’ve seen this past week is eerily similar to 2014 when an unarmed black man died on the ground as he uttered the words “I can’t breathe”. Nowhere nearly enough progress has been made since then. The reality is that we live today in an unjust society that has a dark history of systemic racism and oppression. In our backyard of financial services, there have long been unfair practices ranging from redlining mortgages to harmful products designed to take advantage of minority and lower income communities. The system in place today is still deeply flawed.
We need to acknowledge that black Americans are treated unfairly not just by the police and the justice system, but by the financial system, the healthcare system, the education system, and other facets of our society. Racism still oppresses black Americans on a daily basis and erodes the dignity and opportunity we all deserve in life. We stand in solidarity in the fight against injustice and racism. Black lives matter.
We each need to do our part in this fight to ensure every person is treated with dignity and respect. To me, it means embodying the change I want to see. It means holding myself and others around me to a higher bar than what’s fair and “acceptable” in the financial services industry today. It means treating one another and our customers with the deepest levels of empathy and compassion in their hour of need. With a world in disarray, I hope we can be a rock of stability for each other and everyone that we touch.