Racism: This moment and our future

June 2020

While in many ways the world is a better place today than 30 or 50 years ago, the exposure of tremendous racism in the United States is also exposing the injustice and instability of many of our current systems.

The pain of African-Americans in the United States is not about a single event, or even recent events, but instead the result of a long history of trauma and exploitation. Insofar as the United States faces a crisis, it is a crisis that has always been with us, with historic injustices building upon each other. African-Americans face interconnected, long-term crises that have grown out of the legacies of colonialism and slavery, oppression, and prejudice.

The same is true in many parts of the world, where racism is a component of the exploitation and degradation of vulnerable people, which manifests in many forms including violence and extreme poverty. Moreover, racism is often exploited for political ends.

Racism is abhorrent and horrifying; we denounce all expressions of it.

At the same time, ending this centuries-old disease requires looking at whole systems, not just the most visible symptoms. It requires understanding the interconnectedness of racism with economic and even political exploitation globally. It demands a close examination of the structures that grow and perpetuate racism, and a commitment to co-creating action to change and heal.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of these problems is not an attempt to minimize the pain of today - the pain of a family in Minneapolis over a son killed by police; the pain of black Americans who live in fear of institutions that should be protecting and nurturing them. Nor should it reduce our grief and horror at the tremendous lost human potential caused by racism and exclusion. Rather, it is a reminder that we must combine our loud and immediate outrage at injustice with an effort to fully understand the root causes that permit it to continue.

For Synergos, this effort starts with ourselves. While we strive to be respectful and inclusive of all people, that isn’t enough. Our communities and nations - particularly those of us who have historically benefited from privilege - must do serious inner work to understand our complicity in allowing this trauma to continue, and our responsibility and potential to help heal it.

We in Synergos find that racism and violence come from a failure to find other forms of communication that connect and express frustration. We think bridging leadership can be an answer to reduce chances of violence and to create trust.

We must listen more carefully to the voices of those around us who suffer from racism. We must open space for our own listening and learning, and not jump to “solutioning.” We must support leaders to emerge from communities - people who are too often dismissed, exploited, and abused. We must learn to build trust with people facing trauma, with people who remain ignorant of these injustices, and even with those people and institutions that may profit from them.

There is tension here - a tension between denouncing racism with our fullest voices and yet sometimes engaging with those who, knowingly or not, perpetuate racism. There is tension too between supporting spaces for black and other oppressed people to lead while not placing the burden of solving racism on the victims of it.

And there is tension between immediate action and long-term change. Both are healing in their own ways.

There are no easy answers to these tensions, though we believe there is urgent need for change and recognition that we are all interconnected. Racism is the antithesis of a world built on trust and the opposite of what Synergos is trying to do in the world. We believe all who have power and authority over others should be bridging leaders who strive to connect humanity, despite disagreements, and bring about respect for all humanity.

For Synergos, we believe that our position, platform, and bridging leadership approach centered on building trust can be of use in these difficult times. We re-commit  Synergos and its human capital, experience, and voice to this effort.