I refuse to talk about something real just to sell pizza. It’s a rub that I have with PR people sometimes: I can’t bullshit. I have only one way and it’s the true way. If I can’t say it the way I feel it, I’m not saying it.
It’s a dilemma when the world is going through real and painful strife like we are right now. I want to talk about it. And there are people looking to me and expecting me to say something as the leader of Toppers, but I don’t want it to be some corporate bullshit that will make team members or customers feel ok about Toppers and just get back to buying and selling pizza. A non-answer answer. It’s gonna have to be real if I’m gonna say it.
And because I can’t bring half of myself, I don’t want to say something that will be controversial for some (and what’s not controversial for some?) and hurt the brand or the livelihood of the 1,800 incredible Toppers team members that make the living art of Toppers come to life.
The world is not binary like many try to convince us. Don’t fall for it!! It seems like every single thing you say or do supposedly defines you as either Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal. I don’t buy into that narrative at all. For me, Black Lives Matter AND I Back the Badge. My parents raised me to believe these things, and I still do. How is it controversial to say that black lives matter? I mean, for people that absolutely believe that black lives matter, many of them won’t say so because that then affiliates you with some specific agenda, or pits you against half the people in the world that are allegedly on “the other side”. Fuck that. For the record:
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
To the black and brown Toppers Team members: You are one of us. I love you. We love you and value you. You are as good as good gets on our team. We all see you and care for you. While those of us that are not black or brown cannot fully feel what you feel, we understand that the world is different for you, harder for you and even more dangerous for you in many ways than those of us that are white or who have had other privilege in our lives. I’m sorry for that and for any injustices that you have experienced. Hold onto us. Teach us and trust us. Expect the best of me and us. I believe in your capacity and know that you can do anything! (My job will someday be available…)
I know in the deepest part of my heart that each one of us is a special light in the world, full of goodness and potential. I am simply one of those people, flawed but doing the best I can.
And I am not Black. I am a wealthy, white, educated, male, American business owner in 2020. I think that is about the tippy top of the pyramid of evolutionary Bingo. I’m not ashamed of my identity at all, and for the record I have my own pain and burden. I simply am who I am. But I’m also not who I’m not. And that means that I don’t know what it feels like to be black, or a woman, or hungry, or politically disadvantaged.
It is reprehensible when any person murders another. When a white man that has been given the authority and power of the state murders a powerless black man while others watch, it is intensely moving and repugnant. It’s sad really. That’s a perfect word. I could cry.
Though my emotions are strong, I recognize that I do not and cannot have the same rage and gut pain that my black or disadvantaged fellow person might experience. But I know that by at least recognizing my ignorance and being the best person I can be, I can be part of the solution.
I do not ally myself in any way, shape or form with the police officer that murdered George Floyd. Yes, he is a white powerful man, and so am I. I don’t care. I can only guess what has happened in his life to take him to the place where he could do that to another person.
It’s easier for me to relate to George Floyd than the cop in this case. I am skeptical about government authority in what I consider to be an obligatory healthy way. We hire people, give them guns, and tell them “shoot me or my daughter if you need to”. You’re damn right I’m going to expect them to get it right. It’s an impossible job, and an important, selfless job. My beautiful black niece has just finished her initial training and is about to officially be sworn as a police officer and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s going to be awesome.
My point is that if this is a black and white issue, then I squirm mightily at the idea that my lot is being thrown in with the white guy! Hell no. But it IS a black and white issue and I can definitely get past my discomfort and be in the important conversation and change.
I am an optimist and a lover of people. Both my parents are social workers, and while that carries certain burdens with it 🙂 , I’m blessed to have been raised by them. We usually disagree about politics and the role of government, but not about what right is and what dignity is and what good looks like. We differ about the path to there, but I don’t question their hearts and they don’t question mine.
As Americans I feel strongly that we are less divided because of this incident and this conversation, not more. The injustices and the murders have always happened, now we have another really shocking video and protests to force us to think about it. Awareness is the gift and opportunity we have this week. Aside from the criminal acts of relatively few people, the last week has been good for us. Good people are thinking about it and talking about it, and I’m certain that as a society we will fumble forward at least a little. I will.