Black Lives Matter
Originally Published : June 18, 2020
FIGHTING RACISM: BLACK LIVES MATTER
The murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, James Scurlock, and the scores of senseless deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement have left us deeply saddened and entirely outraged. The brutality has forced us to confront the harsh and often ignored realities of systemic racism, the roots of which remain deeply imbedded in our country’s policies, systems, and institutions. And now, more than ever before, we know how important it is to better educate ourselves and understand the impacts of pervasive racism on the Black and Brown communities at large.
Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve taken time to think, to read, to listen, to learn, and to protest. We’ve revisited the blatant unfairness of our country’s own institutional systems, whether education, wealth, law enforcement, healthcare, government, or housing. It is time to stop denying that systemic racism exists in the very fabric of those systems and get to work eradicating it.
We, like many, acknowledge that there is no simple solution – no single answer – to the questions at hand. Our goal, however, is to do our part as lawyers and industry leaders to continue the discourse necessary to not only eradicate the existing system, but to help build a new, more equal, fairer, society. To that end, we’ve decided to take a more active role in the movement sweeping across the country, its legal system, our beloved city, and the hospitality industry we are lucky to call home.
Our first goal is to look inwards, examining the ways that we can educate ourselves thoughtfully on the issues. We’ve developed a list of reading materials and resources that we will read as a team, with plans to hold regular group meetings to discuss what we’ve learned. We will examine our current practices to uncover any racial bias, whether obvious or latent, that may exist within our own day-to-day operations.
Then, as legal professionals, we know that we have the unique opportunity to bring about meaningful change. We are committed to using our voices where they are most heard and respected and use that platform aggressively to point out inequalities and advocate for change. We don’t take this responsibility lightly.
We recognize that the ability to afford legal services is a barrier for many businesses, but more so for minority-owned businesses, whether because they do not have equal access to start-up capital or otherwise. To help ameliorate this and, to provide an educational resource to minorities interested in owning businesses in the hospitality industry, we will continue offering our free, two-hour, Restaurant Bootcamp seminar in predominantly minority neighborhoods.
Here are some other actions we will be taking:
- – We will form a committee on diversity and workplace sensitivity and inclusion.
- – We will add a zero-tolerance policy on racist and discriminatory behavior against minorities and other vulnerable groups to our retainer agreements.
- – We are committed to contributing to and participating in in minority mentorship programs such as FEASTS (Food Entrepreneurship and Services Training Space).
- – We will hold a webinar to create a safe space where our community can speak freely -and educate each other as to what an effective sensitivity training program should include.
- – We will continue to form an in-depth policy for and will undergo firmwide sensitivity training.
- – We will compile industry statistics and resources that we will share with our staff, client, friends and the hospitality industry so we may all learn and grow in this together.
- – We will increase donations to organizations like Drive Change, P.S. Kitchen, Girls Inc., and others.
- – We will continue to encourage our lawyers to engage in pro bono work to support minority communities.
We will continue to keep you, our clients and friends in the hospitality industry, updated as we progress and will be sure to get you all involved in the fight against racism, both within and outside of the hospitality industry, whenever and wherever we see it.