When I was a little girl, I was told that as long as I graduated from high school and did not get pregnant, I would be a good girl and the world would be wonderful for me. I listened to my mother and grandmother. I did not get pregnant and I graduated from high school midterm, so you know they thought I was a superstar. They never finished high school, and college was never discussed because they did not believe they had the means to send me. As a child, I made up my own mind to be a superstar, and I dreamt of being a superhero. When the superhero hears that some natural disaster is going to destroy the earth, or some villains are causing injustice to society or promoting inequality, they swoop in and use their superpowers to save all of humanity. You know the story. It is not enough, and nor is it real.
Uncomfortable times, disasters, tragedies and villains are not just in story books and movies, they are a real part of life. The COVID-19 pandemic is real and challenging human skill and will, today. Racism and Fascism are real. Inequalities in police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States are real. The wealth gap between races is real and widening. The killing of black men and women is also real.
George Floyd and Ahmad Aubrey’s recent killings incited millions of people across the nation, of all colors, ages, and races, to take to the streets, internet, and social media and raise their voices in protest and legitimate concern about the injustice and inequality in this country towards black and brown people. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The majority of the people involved in the protests have been responsible, inspiring and peaceful. Unfortunately, some expressed their frustration in an unproductive manner by looting, rioting, and endangering the lives of innocent people.
If this were a story book or movie,it would be the moment that the superhero shows up and uses their superpowers to save all of humanity by eliminating the bad people perpetuating social evils. Our happy ending would be the eradication of the coronavirus and healing for those fighting it, the end of racism and injustice, and real liberty that leaves us with unity and hope for a new day.
But this is real life and your favorite story book or movie superhero is not going to show up and magically save America. Fortunately, you and I can be the superheroes who make a real change in this moment.
The superpower that we need, and all have, is leadership, and it can be magical.
The real and far most change is going to come from leadership. According to the leadership guru K.Blanchard, “The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority”. Every one of us are leaders because we have influence. We all have influence with ourselves, family, friends, colleagues, and with stakeholders in the broader community. The great Jimmy Dean, who created a ham and sausage empire, said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”.
I encourage all of you to be a leader and take productive steps to control this pandemic and civil unrest. I encourage those of you who are already in the struggle to keep the faith, keep working, and keep collaborating. We are the custodians of a great nation. For those on the sidelines, I encourage you to come and join hands. Depending on your talent, expertise, energy or financial resources, there are many ways for you to get involved and address the needs of your fellow Americans.
You are needed and welcomed.
In this critical situation, let me speak directly to my colleagues who are professionals in the financial services industry. There is a role for everyone to play in this struggle. Let us do our part by getting involved to help relieve the frustration people feel because they do not understand how the financial system works and do not know how to manage during these uncertain economic times where people are losing their jobs and looking for new opportunities.
Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) is an ideal resource for people to engage and to take action at this moment.
The choices we make will determine our destiny. I made a choice! This was a big choice. My choice was to love and respect ALL people. As a leader, I encourage you to use your leadership superpower to leverage your time, talent and treasure, to partner with UFSC and keep making a difference.If not with us, there are hundreds of organizations supporting communities of color that could use your leadership superpowers.
“Let’s Go to Work!”
Ola Truelove, President
Urban Financial Services Coalition