February 26, 2021

Listening & Learning: Black History Month

Michael Blake
February 26, 2021

Listening & Learning: Black History Month

Michael Blake

Every February, Black History Month is recognized as a time to celebrate the critical achievements and impacts that Black Americans have had on U.S. society and beyond. It’s a great opportunity to educate yourself by being immersed in content that is shared across multiple channels. We knew within Spreetail we wanted to focus on “Listening & Learning” throughout this month and find ways to share what we’ve learned with those around us.

Our theme for Black History Month was the conceptual phrase “Then and Now.” We wanted to not only highlight the leaps and bounds that Civil Rights Leaders and those alike made for future generations but what the present-day experience looks like for Black Americans. We built resources on our intranet where we posted daily, taking team members on a journey through different moments in history.  

The first installation was all about important legislature and movements that changed the everyday lives of Black Americans. The second focused on the crossover of racial disparities and their impact on Black communities ‘then and now.' The final segment featured current leaders and movements that are making history as we speak. To go beyond the impact we can make internally at Spreetail, we'd like to share a few of the resources we found insightful:

Jim Crow Still Exists In America

Still Separate, Still Unequal: Teaching about School Segregation and Educational Inequality

TEDxMinneapolis: The Geography of Inequality

103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
 
Anti-Racism Toolkit

Another way we prioritized “Listening & Learning” was hosting a panel of influential Black voices, who have gone out of their way to serve their community. These five people have made it their mission to advocate for the BIPOC community, bring awareness to current issues, and unite those around them. There is no better way to learn than from those currently paving the road to success: a pastor, a police officer, a young activist, an entrepreneur, and an educator. These are the people that are shaping the minds of today.

At Spreetail, we also like to learn through interactive events where we can build relationships throughout the company. Our event this month is an all-Black artist virtual bingo. The trivia associated highlights the achievements and sacrifices so many old and new Black artists have faced in their careers.

We’re aware of how important the topics of diversity and inclusion are within the workplace. How do we make sure that everyone is seen and heard, regardless of color beyond Black History Month? We answered with SPOC. Spreetail Professionals of Color is a community of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and allies, serving as Spreetail’s connection to the wider BIPOC community. The concept of SPOC was founded by employees to recognize the need for representation in the workplace.

It is not a solution to the problem, but a step in the right direction of inclusivity. The goal of SPOC is to create a safe space where those who are often underrepresented are given a voice, as well as educate those who want to ‘do more’ for the community. Since the creation of SPOC, over 55 Spreetailers have joined the network to learn and drive our mission forward. I hope that as we continue to educate and drive our mission that more people will join as our company continues to grow. I am proud to work for a company that cares enough about their employees to tackle the issues that many of us deal with every day.

To highlight “Listening & Learning” we reached out to one of our own, Erik Minter, to speak on his experience being an ally:

“Living in Minneapolis in 2020 inspired me to educate myself, following multiple tumultuous racial events in the city and across the country. I took it upon myself to read literature on the topic and surround myself with those living through these experiences. Allyship to me, starts with education. You cannot truly comprehend other’s situations firsthand, but you can work to try and understand them. I realized that I needed to take action in my own life to show my girlfriend, and those around me that they are not alone in their fight for equality. I made changes in my life to show my support instead of just speaking on it. I have since served on non-profits whose focus was on correcting these inequalities, paying my respects at memorials, and sourcing from black-owned businesses. Change rarely happens overnight, but progress is progressing. Educate, empathize, act, and repeat.”

We owe it to ourselves and those around us to be as educated as possible in the fight for equality regardless of where we fall on the spectrum. There is not a single action we can take to change the world. However, I believe that by taking these steps we are working toward a more inclusive environment for all.

Michael Blake

Sr. IT Manager

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