It’s the graduation season as young and older prepare to move to the next level. Kindergartners to first grade, elementary to middle, middle to high, high to college and college to the real world. There’s a real expectation that some things will change while some other things remain kinda the same.
This might be a good time for us as a nation to think about what we could change to go to the next level. With recent tragedies in Buffalo NY, Uvalde TX and Tulsa OK (to name a few), there’re those who won’t have the chance to ride the wave with us. Their lives were cut short, which leaves many folks wondering, how do we address the common link across these events. Is it the case that America’s got a bias problem or more directly, a root cause problem?
As these incidents happen time and again, it seems the possible solutions that get thrown around keep falling short. If this were a tech company, the coders would do a deep dive into the software to figure-out whether there’s a ‘bug’ in the system. Sometimes that ‘bug’ can be repeated across other areas because of similar functions. It’s the tech team’s job to fix the problem once and for all in a new product release. If only as citizens or elected officials our public policy process could work like that?
Well, See America In Color (SAIC) came about due to a similar dilemma. After a series of national news stories between 2012 and 2015, the concerns and complaints coming out of many of the protests and demonstrations were sounding the same, like a broken record. This led to a deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks. SAIC adds ‘smarts’ to civics the way biz/tech leaders do with systems and gadgets. Plus, this deep dive took us into the ‘belly of the beast’ of history, civics and culture so guess what we found?
The Bill of Rights came about as a compromise between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. One group liked the idea of a Central (Federal) Government as an overseer of the States. But the other side wanted to make sure that individual rights were not trampled on. In addition to that balancing act, we also found that America has always wrestled with tug-of-war forces around higher ideals vs weaker beliefs. That might help to explain, for example, how we had the Declaration of Independence but still ended up with slavery. So, if we’re gonna move from an outdated way of seeing the Constitution to an updated way of living our best life, we gotta add ‘smarts’ to how we roll as:
Back in the day, we went from horse-and-buggy to automobile (by adding ‘smarts’). There were prob some folks who felt threatened by a perceived loss in the ‘old way’ of getting around. After a while though, many realized that they could get to more places in a shorter span of time. In modern days, when we went from AM to FM or pay phones to cell phones we saw those not as replacement but as improvement. If going from outdated to updated when it comes to technology is seen as improvement, why is it that to go from white supremacy to diversity is described as a ‘great replacement’?
During the onboarding process at a job, a new employee gets ‘schooled’ on some important company policies. They learn the written rules and later on the unwritten rules. There might even be a binder or employee handbook that they’re advised to become familiar with. What if as part of a DEI strategy, you could get a better understanding for civic/social issues? Whether thru an SAIC college event, HR forum or community program, folks can level-up or turn-up as leaders in the culture. Maybe that’s why many Gen Z workers today see that as an important part of their social impact cred.
A college graduate normally has great excitement/enthusiasm about their major or area of interest. This gives them a path to landing their starting job in a chosen field. Over time, they join the ranks of subject matter experts and company leaders. For other folks it’s not so cut-and-dry. It’s a side hustle or personal setback that might put them on a path of turning pain into purpose or passion into profit. SAIC was born out of both. So no matter your day job, having a solution mindset with an eye on setbacks and tragedies that affect families/communities can help to spur change with civic/social issues.
There was a time when wearing seatbelts wasn’t even a thing. Then road safety studies showed how we could reduce fatalities. A major campaign was launched to create a culture shift in how folks viewed seatbelts. What if we could do the same in other areas of life? We can reduce gun fatalities with a culture shift, since the origins of the Second Amendment was fear of insurrection, British invasion and slave rebellion (See Federalist Papers #9, #10, #29). These days most drivers embrace seatbelts for road safety, so we can do the same in other areas as bonafide changemakers.
It’s interesting when you look at solutions being proposed to address some of the urgent issues. There seems to be a root cause problem, a prevention problem or a truth problem. For example, we spend more money on the ‘Department of Corrections’ but don’t even see where it’s needed in a kinda ‘Department of Prevention’. It’s been said that the strength of a chain depends on the weakest link. Maybe there’re some weak links (like seen during slavery) that we gotta do more than just get by. We gotta find the courage to change our approach.
Tracks: Sia – Courage to Change – https://youtu.be/p5QfyF9pkHU
Leela James – Trying to Get By – https://youtu.be/o-oLmIdfNPc