QRCA Works to Know Better and Do Better
by Susanna Franek
Much has transpired since George Floyd was murdered by police on May 25. Protests across America and beyond are committed to fighting racism and inequality against Blacks. In support of the Black community, the Black Lives Matter movement and other offshoot organizations have evolved into a global, collective cross-cultural movement that’s gaining momentum. And no less, the U.S. is experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus across the nation; a pre-COVID world seems light years ago.
The QRCA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force
Many of you have asked about QRCA’s stand on what’s happening. Here’s a quick recap: the DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity) Task Force was formed at the end of 2019 and, with approval from the board, was formally launched at the January 2020 QRCA Annual Conference in Austin, objectives were outlined, and co-chairs (Shannon Danzy, Principal of danzy consults. and me) put in place.
COVID-19 initially slowed our progress, and then the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis flipped America on its head. In response, on June 3, on behalf of QRCA, President Kelly Heatly released a statement committing to anti-racism and condemning the violence and continued discrimination against Blacks. As an added objective, the Task Force since has been busy discussing, planning, and putting together programming to provide members and the industry with opportunities to learn and engage in community discussions on race, racism against Blacks, and white privilege while building needed cultural sensitivity and empathy skills. We will also soon announce several initiatives that we hope will contribute to bringing Black students into the field as well as advance Blacks already well into their careers.
Series on Race & Racism Against Blacks
The DE&I Task Force hosted its first Listening Circle on June 8 among members, facilitating breakout rooms that allowed everyone to voice their angst, concerns, frustrations, challenges, fears, and opportunities in a safe space in small groups. It was cathartic and healing; everyone agreed that more such sessions are needed. Take-aways from the Listening Circle and informal conversations with members informed how the QRCA could move forward with training and learning opportunities.
On June 24, a listening circle for Black researchers (called #BlackMRX Chat) was held in recognition that Black researchers could use their own private, safe space to talk, support, and uplift each other. It was such a success that additional sessions are currently being scheduled and an online community will be launched.
Education on Black History
DE&I Task Force: PART I: A Primer on Race and Blackness in America on June 29
This two-part series, presented by history professor Dr. Carmen Harris from the University of South Carolina Upstate, will provide an historical overview of the construction of race in the United States and how it has shaped our understanding of both blackness and non-blackness and their continuous deployments across the chronology of U.S. History.
Part II – Friday, July 24,, 12–1:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)
DE&I Task Force: The Problem with Privilege on Monday, July 13, 12–1:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco will lead a lecture/discussion on privilege that is designed to be relevant to individuals from all cultural backgrounds, but especially to a white audience. She will apply her career experience in the advertising industry, and how she served as a bridge between corporate America and consumers of color. She will illuminate the role of the white ally and how self and societal knowledge can lead to perspective shifting—an essential element in cultural and racial conversations.
DE&I Task Force: Listening Circle: White Privilege, Monday, July 13, 1:45–3 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)
Immediately following the discussion on privilege by Rochelle, we will join other QRCA members to continue the conversation to discuss what we learned and the impact of privilege on our personal and professional lives. The Listening Circles will be a safe space for people to explore their thoughts and feelings. In a smaller group setting, people are nudged to step out of their comfort zones in turns while others listen. It’s a “no judgment” zone.
…And More to Come
Stay tuned for sessions on marketing to and conducting market research with Blacks with the award-winning speaker, Black American expert, and author Pepper Miller of The Hunter-Miller Group as well as a training session on important qualitative research skills such as empathy.
We’re Here for You
The task force is here to support our members—all of our members. We encourage engagement from everyone, domestic and international. The welcome mat is out for volunteers to come join us! This is not a time to take a back seat. We need to brave some tough conversations. It’s new terrain and it’ll be messy and raw, but necessary. Let’s be patient with each other!
Here’s a comprehensive list of resources so we can start self-educating. If we all commit to reading an article a day, watching a documentary a week, reading a book a month to inform ourselves on the historical backdrop of racism in America, that’s a great start to not only changing the narrative, but creating a saner, more just world. In the meantime, Maya Angelou’s words couldn’t be more appropriate to our purpose:
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
About the Authors:
Cultural Anthropologist, Ethnologix
Co-Chair, Diversity, Equality & Inclusivity Task Force,
Chair of Multicultural SIG
BIO: A bilingual cultural anthropologist, Susanna’s work is grounded in social justice qualitative research methods. Studies include among Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, youth and general market communities within the U.S. and internationally. Susanna is passionate about changing the narrative on race, gender, and immigration to help birth a new inclusion of the underdog.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash (BLM signs)
Photo by Zoe VandeWater on Unsplash ("I understand that I will never understand")