Outside World, Inside Impact: Building Spaces for Understanding
Opal started the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement because she grew up seeing injustices against black people, from the murder of Trayvon Martin to present day with the shooting of Jacob Blake. It became clear to her that something needed to happen to promote justice.
Recently, we have seen the world activate around standing up for social justice. This has been driven largely through social media. This is why Opal chose to develop the #BlackLivesMatter movement on social media in 2013. Not only does it allow black people to share their experiences to a larger audience, it also has given people who otherwise might not have had a microphone to share and participate in the movement. Opal shared “social media unlocks the power in each of us and amplifies everyone’s voice. We need each person to feel it. To be moved by the stories and to know that they have power to create change.”
Opal shared how corporations can step up power within their own sphere of influence. She shared how companies can play a role in change and be more than a performative ally.
- Experiment, try out new ways of stepping up commitment
- Have robust internal dialogue
- Diversify at all levels of the organization
- Think externally. What are the products you’re producing, the messages you’re sharing, and what impact are you having on the communities you impact and engage with?
- Create an infrastructure to maintain the strategy
Being a performative ally means you might have the intention but there was no actual impact. You need to have the infrastructure to ensure you have that impact. There can be trainings that takes place, but what are the programs and plans to ensure that day in and day out you are maintaining that infrastructure and the intention you had?
Opal shared that the leaders of corporations should think bigger about how they are implementing DEI in their culture and how this will funnel to employees and consumers. People interact every day with businesses and they touch every sphere of our lives. We are participants in it, we interact with the products they produce, the messages they put out, and with the whole supply chain.
Final words from Opal shared a message of action, “for groups looking for how to change or step up, the answer is to just do it. Everybody is responsible. Take the time to do the readings and self-reflection. What we need is for people to be transformed. And it’s not just about one group of people – it’s a challenge and responsibility on all of us to solve.”