I hope that you and yours remain safe and healthy.
George Floyd’s last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of life must have been painful and scary. As an asthma sufferer, I can attest to how fearful the lack of breath can be.
But this tragedy, when coupled with the bravery of a young woman who bore witness to this wrong and captured it on her smartphone for the world to see, has changed us.
And by us, I mean the citizens, immigrants and others who call the United States of America home.
George Floyd’s story stands not just for his own death, but also for the unnamed others who had no witnesses and no camera-enabled phones to bear witness to their silent deaths.
This isn’t a new story.
But, unfortunately it’s a very old story.
It has happened for centuries, not only in my country, but also in countries around the world.
And even worse, these assaults are committed in the name of protecting the greater good. In many cases this means the people in power, including police officers and members of the military, hide the true facts and then defend their actions as justified.
From my Manhattan home, every day for more than a week I’ve heard and seen crowds of people moving between protest sites and the whirl of helicopters overhead from early evening on.
In my neighborhood, store windows were broken and some stores were looted. The few people responsible for the looting followed the marches and used the crowd as cover for their vandalism and theft.
Yet, if you looked closely, most of the merchandise remained in the stores untouched and organized for sale since New York City Police working along the marcher’s path, acted quickly to protect lives and property.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that these small groups of looters are guilty of theft and should be held responsible. They were organized and knew what they were doing.
But they don’t represent the overwhelming majority of the people in the streets exercising their first amendment rights to free speech and assembly.
Nor does this vandalism represent the largest losses.
During this COVID-19 period, my husband and I have witnessed empty and boarded up stores around our neighborhood.
For example: the Brooks Brothers Store on 20th Street and Broadway—in a beautiful building that was home to Lord & Taylor’s in the 1870s—has been emptied of merchandise for weeks.
Unlike Brooks Brothers, other merchants chose to leave product of value in their display windows to entice passersby despite having time and other marketing alternatives. Further, they protected their stores with alarms, video cameras and insurance.
Breaking windows and looting accomplishes little, as James Baldwin pointed out in a July 1968 Esquire Interview:
Who is looting whom? Grabbing off the TV set? He doesn’t really want the TV set. He’s saying screw you. It’s just judgment, by the way, on the value of the TV set. He doesn’t want it. He wants to let you know he’s there.
As a result, last Tuesday, my block was full of the sounds of sawing and hammering all day. By the late afternoon the sidewalk and street was covered in sawdust as shop owners hastily covered their windows before the 8pm curfew.
Why do I consider this important to write in a marketing newsletter?
Because in today’s world, businesses and brands have a responsibility to stand for more than the increase in profits, especially when the top management gets disproportionally compensated.
In today’s world, our brands, marketing and businesses must be driven by a higher-level purpose than the creation of profitable revenue.
We must be purpose-driven and motivated by our core mission to help solve the problems and needs of our larger society.
Our organizations must exist to provide solutions for our employees, customers and others touched by our business.
In the process, we and the organizations we work for must contribute to improving our society more broadly.
We can create and implement solutions that make everyone better off regardless of race, country of origin, religious beliefs, level of education, wealth and/or sexual orientation.
Because we have a responsibility as part of the businesses we work for to take care of the most needy among us, we must ensure the safety and health of all of us across all of our neighborhoods and communities.
Beyond our collective responsibility, it is a matter of security to make sure there are no food deserts, no health deserts, housing deserts and no lack of quality education in this country.
Since each person living in these United States deserves access to the quality of life and the freedom to decide how they choose to live their life.
Because most of us or our ancestors came from somewhere beyond the shores of this great land.
But together, we can re-envision what is possible to become a better country. Where we can support each other and engage in civil discourse that brings us closer, not divides us.
As President Kennedy said:
“We choose to do this, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”
Together we can solve difficult problems.
So, what should we as marketers do to accomplish this?
Because we have the training and experience to build relationships and coordinate our efforts towards something greater. In my humble opinion, there is no greater calling than to help to transform this divisive world.
And by building communities one person at a time, not just to generate revenues but also to attain greater goals and to change our country and the world, we will help to build a better and stronger society for all.
There is serious work to be done rebuilding the trust that binds society together and we must heed this call to action regardless of background.
To make this country and the world beyond its borders truly inclusive, we all need to contribute.
I hope that you and those your care about stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
And know that when we work together as a community we can achieve a good quality of health, shelter and nourishment for everyone, not just a select few.
P.S.: Join me for Voice Global on June 17, 2020.
Register for this FREE, 24 hour, worldwide livestream conference.
[ Note the new date. The event was postponed to honor the Funeral of George Floyd. ]
Voice Global covers voice technology from designers, developers, startup executives and investors. Learn what the who’s who of the VOICE industry have to say (including me!)
Also check out the Inside Voice Podcast.
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