Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
We’ve all had to have “Come to Jesus” conversations with our loved ones and ourselves during these difficult times of unrest, after George Floyd’s murder under the knee of a white policeman.
Last week, my son, Brett, a twenty six year old, black young man sat me down for such a meeting. He insisted I silence the television, and turn my cell phone off as he needed my undivided attention.
My son wanted to know what I felt could be done to help correct the injustice and essentially, how was I stepping up?
My children, although both bi-racial, have been raised predominantly by the black side of their family (my mother and me).
The influence from their white father was zero tolerance for racism and exclusion. Steve actually went so far as to fight the establishment when he was denied membership to The Esquire Club, a private African American men’s club in Seattle, founded in 1947. He was extremely liberal, and as a gifted basketball player, he shined on Seattle University’s historic team that upset undefeated Texas Western. Steve Looney, now deceased, shared stories of the turbulent times while traveling in the south, with his teammates, where they were nicknamed 4 Coons and The Loons as he was often the only one of few white players in the lineup. Steve shared how on road trips, in solidarity, he would join his black friends and all would sleep and eat on the bus, as the black team members were not allowed in certain hotels and restaurants. As part of Steve’s legacy, we established The Steve Looney Scholarship.(Read www.menopausebarbees.com The Heart of an Education-Paying it Forward).
My son, acknowledged the privilege that my family’s hard work and history has afforded him. He is a graduate of the University of Washington Foster School of Business. He’s a member of The Seattle Tennis Club, a club with a ten year wait list. He lives in an affluent neighborhood. He is well traveled. With his fair skin and blue eyes, he often has to let strangers (predominantly white) know, he is indeed black. This was particularly the case while he was living in Chicago and working in the suburbs where he faced racial disparaging remarks by ignorant encounters. Unbeknownst to many of the vendors he called upon, they didn’t know they were in the presence of an African American, while complaining about blacks moving in their suburbia.
Our conversation was long and deep. I expressed that change must occur by leveling the playing field. We need a strong foundation to build a sturdy home to withstand every storm. The strong foundation begins with supporting our youth and offering opportunity. I’m on the advisory board of Treehouse and the mission statement is, “To give children in foster care a childhood and a future.” WE must educate and if this is from scholarships or mentorships, we ALL can give- time or money. My friends, Marta and Lucio Dalla Gasperina, founders of Tommy Bahama, who introduced me to Treehouse, dreamed up Fostering Scholars, where they offered full rides to foster kids at Seattle U. This program was established in 2006, and as of June 2019, there were 46 graduates with a retention rate of 83%. They stepped down as owners of Tommy Bahama, but stepped up for the children.
A few years ago, a black man I know who was employed by my mother and I, was incarcerated for several years. When he was released, possible jobs were limited if not existent. I called my friend, Mark Benezra of Buffalo Industries who gave him not only employment, but an opportunity to get into society and to get a life. Today, this friend has produced a board game, he is launching on health and fitness. I am beyond proud of his efforts to make his mess his message and stay healthy. Mark stepped up and showed, opportunities abound when opportunity is offered.
Michael Jordan’s brand donated 100 million to organizations fighting racism against black people. He stepped up, by Just Doing it!
Alexis Ohania, co-founder of Reddit and husband of Serena Williams is resigned from his board, and urged that seat be filled by a black candidate. This is a company that as of 2018, employed approximately 350 people. In 2017, the company was valued at 1.8 billion. He is Stepping UP, by Stepping Down! Bravo
So today, and everyday, the challenge is- how are you Stepping Up?
Thank you, Brett for speaking up and inspiring this post. You lift me up everyday in every way. I will continue to step up and support our African American youth by donating my time and money to programs to give them a foundation and future.