Calling All Millennials
As we wrap up yet another year around the sun and head into 2022, I can’t help but feel bittersweet about our nation’s progress regarding race, diversity, and inclusion. On one hand, I am proud that we are finally having these conversations on a national scale instead of being silenced, and I am proud to be a part of leadership in this country that represents and fights for marginalized voices and communities. On the other hand, I know the road before us is long, and as we head into midterm elections this next year, I feel fearful that our nation is headed backwards.
The unfortunate truth is that the topic of race and inclusion has inevitably become a political issue rather than taken for what it is — a human rights issue. No matter where you stand on the political divide, no matter what political party you align yourself with, you are either supporting diverse voices and the movement for change – or using diverse people to profit from and/or destroy.
So how do we make sure that we are moving forward rather than backward? How do we ensure that this platform is leveraged and the voices of millions of Americans are not only heard but respected. While November 8th, 2022 seems far off, it will be here before we know it, and given the current landscape in society, the midterms have the potential to be every bit as dramatic as the 2020 Presidential Election.
When push comes to shove, running this country follows the same essential truths to that of running a business — and with over 30 years in leadership roles and experience under my belt, I know that race relations is at the core of everything, including business. I’ve said it before in nearly all of my speaking engagements and I will say it again, the heart is the core of your business. I am not who you think I am. You are who you think I am. What you see in me, exists in you. When the heart is right when these issues matter when these issues are championed, everything changes. Are we going to have the right leadership in the White House? Has the current administration helped? Or hindered progress?
So what has helped change the narrative in the United States? What took us from silencing the issue to race, to exposing it, investigating it, and championing race, diversity, and inclusion in business and beyond?
The obvious issues that have broken this issue open are, events like George Floyd. Or the open murdering of Ahmaud Arbery – and then the fight for justice. Watching Rittenhouse get away with open murder – and his mother (who represents the biggest challenge in this country as white women upholding this patriarchy) driving him to the scene – all but bursts open this topic. The subtitles of what isn’t being seen – for instance – the percentage of brown and black people not having access to earning power – real earning power – is another piece to this systemic racism that is in the everyday life. These truths are uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Another reason is that we are sitting among a generational shift in American politics and business. I see this play out all the time at my speaking engagements; Baby Boomers are being replaced by young Millennials for leadership positions to usher in a new era of business and innovation.
You would think the same would ring true in terms of politics, right? Well, that's the issue. We find ourselves sitting amid stormy waters as this generational divide separates voters in our current political landscape. However, millennials have been noticeably absent in the polls, even more so than Generation Z. Why is this? Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers when it comes to eligible voters, so why are they choosing not to show up and use their voice to create the change they want to see? I get this system is gross – and many have simply given up…but we need you!
Millennials, please understand that you have an incredible amount of power and influence you have yet to harness. Millennials are the second-largest generation, passing Baby Boomers in 2019 with over 72 million voters, but falling short to Gen Z is 2020 for the top slot. Think about that, more than half of the nation’s adult population are between the ages of 18 and 40. The opportunity to usher in a new era of racial equity is massive.
Millennials are the most racially diverse demographic in history with over 40% of the entire demographic identifying as non-white. All of this, yet only 50% of eligible young voters participated in the 2020 election. So as the second-largest demographic, the most racially diverse demographic, and perhaps the most influential demographic in history, you’d think the youth would dominate the electoral process, would you not?
Unfortunately with everything that has happened since the onset of the pandemic and rising inflation, the divide between left and right has expanded to a valley and the stakes have never been higher as it pertains to the issue of race, diversity, and inclusion. As a generation committed to equality and championing Women's rights, civil rights, and human rights, Millennials need to show up, use their power, and have their voices heard. The 2022 midterms will bring forth a melting pot of voters from all different walks of life, backgrounds, beliefs, and income levels — but the question is: is your heart at the core of your business as you exercise your right to vote in this country? Will the millennials show up?