For Melonie Parker, Google’s head of diversity and inclusion, Juneteenth is difficult this year because of recent mass shootings.

June 19, or Juneteenth, commemorates the effective end of slavery in the US. 
Google exec Melonie Parker shared what the day means to her, and why it’s difficult this year.
She said Black Americans still lack safety in the US, and leaders need to do more.

On Sunday, Google’s head of diversity and inclusion, Melonie Parker, will do something she normally doesn’t: pause. For Juneteenth — the day that marks the effective end of slavery in the US in 1865 — she’ll be reading the Bible, poring over works by Black authors, and reflecting on the notion of liberation.

It’s all part of her Juneteenth ritual. But this year, in particular, Parker is having difficulty wrestling with the idea of freedom — the unshackling from injustice — given recent acts of violence in the US.

Last month’s shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman killed 10 Black Americans in a grocery store, the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead and more than a dozen wounded, and another deadly shooting in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are weighing on Parker. 

“As Americans, we are deeply connected by these incredibly tragic and horrific events in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa — some of which have directly impacted the Google community,” she said. “In a sense, we have all been wounded, impacted and trauma-bonded by these mass shootings.” 

While Parker said there’s been much progress since George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 fueled a movement for racial justice, the country needs to do more to protect its people, especially Black Americans. 

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Violent incidents by white supremacist groups are rising in America. The Department of Homeland Security has said white supremacist extremists “remain the most persistent and lethal threat” to the nation. And 2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with Black trans people especially at risk. For Parker, liberation cannot exist without security. 

“One of the basic tenets we value within our right to liberty is safety,” she told Insider. “Black Americans are grounded in experiences where their liberties are threatened by a lack of safety.”

Business and political leaders need to double down on protecting Black Americans from violence, Parker said.

Creating safe spaces 

In addition to not tolerating hate or prejudice, business leaders need to do more to provide spaces for their employees to exist, to grieve, and to express their thoughts, Parker said in a previous interview with Insider. 

Managers can hold sessions in solidarity with communities affected by violence and executives should offer mental-health support to employees, Parker said. Colleagues also have a role to play; people from one community need to show up for other communities, she said. 

“The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been more important,” she said, adding that creating a sense of community for Google employees during difficult times involves a lot of conversation. “We talk about it. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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