To fight injustice (or to run healthy organizations), we have to love and believe in people
This week, the 8 Black Hands podcast hosted Dr. Howard Fuller (listen or watch).
The conversation started with a review of an incident in Rochester, New York. On Saturday, January 29, police responded to “a report of ‘family trouble’” involving a 9-year-old girl. The police handcuffed the girl, put her in a police car, and, after she was in the car, sprayed her with pepper spray.
The 8 Black Hands — Dr. Charles Cole, Sharif El-Mekki, Ray Ankrum, and Chris Stewart — along with Dr. Fuller, shared their feelings and thoughts about this event. There was a lot of anger and a discussion about how to channel anger or rage in ways that move things forward. Dr. Fuller suggested three steps to take when we feel inclined to help rectify injustice.
1. Connect with someone in the immediate community and see if there are things going on there where you could do something of value to help. 2. Use whatever platform you have to speak about this injustice. 3. Whatever it is you’re already doing to help your community, double down on that.
Now, none of those actions are likely to be effective if they’re not coming from a place of love of our fellow humans. Several participants in the podcast stated that things would have been different had any one of the adult officers involved really loved the young girl.
In any endeavor, we will be most successful if we believe in people. In his book, Believe in People: Bottom Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, Charles Koch argues that in business, or in any institution, the best solutions empower people. “This looks different with each injustice and within each institution. In broad terms, the right approach is the one that enables people to discover, develop, and apply their gifts so they can succeed by contributing.” And, “as a general rule, the people best suited to end an injustice are those closest to it – a crucial component of bottom up.”
Working from the “bottom up” might, for example, mean being more trusting of young people. In the 8 Black Hands podcast, Dr. Fuller talked about working across generations for change. Believing in people means believing in those who may be younger and experience injustice differently from the older generation. Dr. Fuller pointed out that just because we experience things differently doesn’t render a younger generation’s experience or views about how to tackle injustice any less relevant.
So, informed by these discussions, what might you or I do to more effectively fight injustice?
Reflect and check whether we really love all of our sisters and brothers, our fellow sojourners in this imperfect world.
When we see something happening and want to help, start by talking to those closest to the problem. Find out from them what we could do that would be valuable.
Use the platforms we have available to talk about injustice.
Do whatever it is we normally do to make the world a better place (at work, at home, at school, at church, or at play). But do it better. With more love.