Brad Keywell

Out of Many, One

In this moment, one truth arises above all else: Black lives matter. 

I do not claim to understand the experience of being Black in America.

I do, however, claim to care that the experience of being Black (or any skin color, ethnicity, or orientation) in America should bring with it the same rights and privileges and protections and treatment as that of being white.

E plurbus unum. Out of many, one.  One family. 

‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’  This is a good time for all of us to reread the prophetic words of Martin Luther King Jr. and commit to speak up on behalf of our Black sisters and brothers.  MLK’s words are worth reconsidering: ‘He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it’, ‘The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict’, and ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

The repulsive and tragic murder of George Floyd is a wake-up call: Black lives matter.  This is a time for action, as each of us can help solidify this foundational truth once and for all: Black lives matter. 

Entrepreneurs – collectively the largest engine of job-creation in our country – must create workplaces and employment practices and cultural norms that further reinforce the unarguable truth: Black lives matter. 

From my vantage point, I believe entrepreneurs carry the keys of innovation that unlock positive change and progress.  We must challenge ourselves to unlock tactics that show what ‘better’ looks like.  As is often the case, I believe large companies (and all organizations) will ultimately follow our creative lead -- what is first viewed as ‘innovative’ and ‘progressive’ will become the norm.  As entrepreneurs, we must pursue solutions to this issue with the tenacity of a startup mindset – we will not stop until we get it right.

We are one – one family. In our American family, entrepreneurs are the rambunctious ones, full of optimism and oriented towards action.  ‘E plurbus unum’ are the only words on the American seal, means ‘Out of many, one’, a phrase derived from Cicero who wrote in 44 BC, ‘When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many.’ 

It’s time to proselytize, recognize, and formalize that America is one family, a family whose strength is demonstrated through love for our brothers and sisters.  The strength of family is knowing they’ll be there for you, no matter what.  No matter the color of your skin.  We must reinforce our strength by protesting and demanding that things get better for our sisters and brothers.

Our country is built on innovation and constant learning and improvement.  We believe not in ‘perfect’, but in ‘more perfect’ – we’ve proven our durable strength as a union by creating ‘more perfect’ when confronted with our imperfections.  We’ve been confronted with horrid police brutality before -- this time must be the last.

How do we ensure that this time is the last? We get creative, innovative, together and loud. We get mad and protest peacefully.  We read and listen and speak, we have uncomfortable conversations, we advocate, and (when possible) we mandate. And we don’t stop until we get the job done. 

One of the foundational values I’ve tried to teach my two daughters was articulated beautifully by the late writer James Baldwin: ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ Teaching, they repeatedly hear me say, is an art best taught through doing.

It’s time for the words ‘Black lives matter’ to be words of doing. It’s time for the family we call America to have the uncomfortable conversations, acknowledge its imperfections, and make the definitive commitment to be ‘more perfect’. Now.

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© Brad Keywell 2021