Thought Leadership

Letter from Darrell Byers

In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.
– Angela Davis

As a child, I knew what it was like to see an unarmed man shot by police. I knew what it was like to be put up against a police car and frisked because I “fit the description.” I remember watching the riots of the late ’60s and early ‘70s.

I understand now what I came to understand then. I know what it’s like to be black in America.

Last week, two days after the murder of George Floyd, I was talking with a classmate of mine from high school. I asked him if ever he thought, all these decades later, that we would be fighting the same battles in America.

Not that we expected to see change overnight, but did we expect to be where we are today — fighting the same racist systems and racist institutions?

Growing up, I heard stories from my parents who experienced Jim Crow first-hand. Their stories made clear how helpless it felt to not be able to change or even challenge the establishment.

As all parents do, they wanted things to be better for their children.

Over the last two months, as we face a pandemic that has killed blacks at three times the rate of whites, we also face the murder of George Floyd. And Breonna Taylor. And Eric Garner. And Michael Brown. And Philando Castile. And Sandra Bland. And thousands of black people killed by police at over two times the rate of whites in this country.

The heaviness in my soul is accompanied by rage, and, quite honestly, fear for the world my son is growing up in.

I want to harness the anger I feel to make “good trouble” as Congressman John Lewis states. I want to use the rage that I feel to dismantle the deeply racist and oppressive systems that perpetuate inequality. I want to reimagine a world of equity, inclusion, and grace.

Join me in this movement, for as Michael Jordan said last week, we have had enough.

Darrell Byers
CEO of Interise