By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)
Mindsets are changing in response to public outrage over a series of events which have indicated an ongoing pattern of police brutality and unduly restrictive law enforcement, which has been out of control. Many leaders in business, government, associations, sports and entertainment are speaking out about reasserting their values, actions they are taking and changes being made to help put an end to deeply rooted systemic racism.
While streets are filled with protesters, many people are afraid to say anything about racial discrimination issues because it’s like walking on egg shells. They are afraid of offending people. Some have expounded their zero tolerance policies and have said they would not do business with someone who didn’t share their views, which hopefully, had been evaluated on the basis of rational utility.
Since it’s almost impossible to agree with an individual on every single issue, and since people can change their minds, some people err on the side of saying too little, rather than risking saying the wrong thing, which might have adverse consequences. Some people fear censure, public humiliation, or possible retaliatory actions for having said something that might be either misinterpreted, or seem insensitive. Ill designing people can be prevented from becoming to popular or powerful by keeping their statements in check with public opinion.
One universal truth that nobody I know has disagreed with is that the George Floyd incident was wrong. The evil act was universally recognized and condemned. It was wrong on so many levels that it sparked widespread protests, the likes of which have not been seen for a very long time. This is a time reminiscent of the civil rights protests in the 60’s. Many people have had the courage to speak out to rightfully condemn what happened and demand change, which is greatly needed.
As communications experts, we need to consider how to return to civility, especially the messages of the lawless militias of violent protesters, which did harm to the communities they were allegedly defending, by looting, vandalizing, and destroying lives. Instead of repaying evil with evil, we need to encourage people to have mutually respectful conversations about what good, helpful steps should be taken to get desirable outcomes, with a virtuous, morally fortified, pragmatic system that works.
I was highly impressed with the insights of so many courageous, outspoken leaders, like Helen Shelton, Torod Neptune, Brandi Boatner, Judith Harrison, Kai D. Wright, Mike Fernandez, Aaron Blank and many others, who have been driving their messages home for years and helping to effect positive changes.
We need to hear from people of all backgrounds, cultures and viewpoints if we are to thrive as a civilized society. We strive for compassion, respect and empathy but we can’t know how it feels to be part of a group unless we have been a part of that community. Having a welcoming and inclusive environment will help us to assure that everyone’s voice matters.
We need change, not only in the workplace, but also in the community at large, encouraging the kind of behavior that will help our civilization prosper to the fullest extent possible. The power of loving our fellow man will help to keep us united and strong. We feel better when we are able to help others with our benevolent acts and that rewarding experience will create a desire to do more good in the world.
People need guidance to choose a course of action that can help the cause. There are so many wonderful, helpful, largely peaceful organizations, such as NAACP, Amnesty International, Campaign Zero, National Urban League, National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Black Lives Matter and many more. These organizations need our help, not only financially, but also to shape the narrative in a thoughtful, lawful, peaceful, professional and convincing manner, and to get the word out about how people can support their useful and beneficial initiatives.
Ideally, we can also help to restore the reputations of law enforcement officials by informing the public what steps they have recently taken to try to correct the system and improve upon policies and procedures that will enable a fair and reasonable basis for keeping citizens safe, secure and free to pursue happiness. Organizations such as National Association of Police Organizations have begun communicating their reaction to the crisis.
During the current health and economic crisis, many people are struggling to make ends meet, but would like to devote their time and resources to show their support. Many are trying to educate themselves by reading books about the history of the problems that have existed for hundreds of years, since the founding of our great nation. Much progress has been made but we still have a long way to go to reach our goals.
We, at North American Precis Syndicate, have been helping organizations with issue oriented messages, for decades. We don’t sit in judgement to decide who is right and who is wrong. We help people to tell their stories to the best of our abilities, without offending people with hate speech or foul language. We write persuasively for maximum impact. We do this by focusing on universally accepted principles that everyone can agree on, such as the need for better education, jobs, reasonable taxes and manageable consumer prices. We show people what’s in it for them and how they will benefit by choosing the recommended course of action.
If new laws are what’s needed, we encourage people to contact their elected officials to voice their opinions and to vote for people who share their ideals. We quote leaders that we trust and respect. We share compelling statistics from reliable sources, such as trade associations, the government, medical professionals and educational authorities.
For a truly inclusive society, we need to focus on all media outlets, not just the largest ones. In addition to our regular outreach to thousands of community news outlets nationwide, we have a special program for black media and Spanish media, with a cumulative audience of millions.
We are passionate about working on the projects that help make the world a safer, healthier, more productive, socially just and enjoyable place to live in for all.