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Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People

Apr 6, 2020

Conversations on Race and Racism in the Covid 19 Pandemic

How do we continue to address racism in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic while we practice physically distancing, shelter at home and become extreme hand-washers?

Juan Lopez, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion thought leader, joins me to talk about racism in the time of COVID 19, and why conversations on race are so crucial right now.

Listen to this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race to find creative ways to build community, connection and increase real communication in the virtual world of this global crisis,

Juan was one of the first leaders in the movement to create organizations that support diversity, equity and inclusion. He shares his story about growing up a Chicano in California, as well as his past experience, present observations and future predictions for eliminating racism and division today.

Key points from our discussion:

  • We are seeing an increase in racist attacks against Asians who are being scapegoated and blamed for the virus. These racist verbal and physical attacks are a result of some people feeling powerless and looking for a target, direct messages from the white house, extreme right-wing media and some government officials.
  • Those of us who are anti-racist, pro-unity and pro-love can take actions to stop people from harm and to help them be safe.
  • We can let people who are potential targets of racist attacks know that they can come to us if they are afraid. If possible, we will accompany them on essential errands or find ways to help them get groceries, gas and what they need for survival.
  • We can speak up on social media against racism and racist stereotypes, particularly against Asians.
  • If we hear people, we know make racist or hateful statements, we can’t just excuse those comments but must intervene.
  • We can continue to create community, increase connection and effective communication across differences by calling people to check in, set up Zoom calls or use other remote platforms.
  • At this time, it’s important to let people know they matter.
  • People who are targets of white supremacy need to know they are not alone and that we can be connected across those differences and go beyond just supporting those that look like us.

On the playlist this week, is old school R&B with artists like the Eisley Brothers and I’m listening to “Wake Up Everybody,” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

As we get closer to the Jewish holiday of Passover, I’m listening to Jewish songs of resistance during the holocaust and thinking about how we all need each other right now.  This is a scary time, but we can’t let our fear turn to panic or exclusion. This is the time for love, inclusion and unity for those of those that want to eliminate fear of difference and bring people together.

Bio for Juan Lopez

Juan Lopez is the President of Amistad Associates, a consulting firm that provides Strategic Planning, Organizational Development, Team Building, Leadership, Customer Service, and Managing Diversity. In addition, Juan was a founder and principal with the Center for Reinventing Government.  

Juan has worked in the public and private sectors for the last 28 years.  Since 1986, fifty percent of his work has focused on organizational development with local government and educational institutions. 

Under Juan's guidance, Amistad Associates has contributed to the organizational and leadership development of Port of Oakland, Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles Community Development Commission, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Sonoma State University, Contra Costa County, Napa County, Peralta Community College District, and several California Cities and non-profits.

As a consultant with Sentient Systems, he provided training to cities and counties on changing organizational norms and taught the Continuing Education for Public Officials (CEPO) project, sponsored by the League of California Cities.

Among Juan’s clients are corporations, government, and non-profit organizations.  He has provided leadership and diversity consulting services to AT&T, Bell Laboratories, NASA Johnston Space Center, Digital Equipment Corporation, Levi Straus and Co., Frito, Pepsi, Wells Fargo Banks, Avon Products International, Dupont, Fannie Mae, the U.S. Postal Service, public health centers, school districts, the Anti-Defamation League, Alameda Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Hispanic Corporate Council, University of California at Berkeley, and Sonoma State University.

He is a member of the Diversity Collegium, professionals dedicated to advancing the field of Diversity through research and learning, and a co-founder of Diversity 2020