HOW TO HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS IN TIMES OF CRISIS
Tru Pettigrew is a celebrated author, engaging speaker, committed community leader, and award-winning marketing executive. Tru founded Tru Access to serve as an inspiration and empowerment consultancy.
HOW DO YOU BELIEVE WE CAN STAY CONNECTED DURING COVID-19 AND ENSURE WE CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD IN THE CELEBRATION OF DIVERSITY?
Given this current climate, I believe the best ways to stay connected and ensure that we continue to move forward in the celebration of diversity is to take our typical or planned in-person engagements with others to virtual engagements with others. Engage digitally and do so with intentionality. We should go above and beyond the surface timeline scrolls, and likes. Call people, email people, text people, write thoughtful responses to their posts. And now is a great time to invest in learning about those that are different from us by reading different books, blogs, and articles, or organizing online watch parties of different movies, documentaries and films followed by online discussions about the content that was just watched, shared, or viewed. Tru Access will be conducting its Heart & Art property to do just that.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO CREATE TRU ACCESS AND BECOME A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION?
I always knew that there were disparities in treatment, opportunities, and in many cases, perceived value for people that did not represent the dominant majority. That became even more evident to me when I was hired at my first ad agency back in the mid-90’s. Although I did well personally, I was always viewed as the exception, and not the rule. I was often told how “special” I was, and how “I’m different”. And this was usually conveyed in the context of comparison to other black men. And that bothered me. It bothered me because I knew that just wasn’t true. Yeah, I was good at what I did. But I also knew that given the opportunity, other men and women that looked like me could be just as good and even better than me. So this D&I journey began for me back then during my ad agency days. I was very intentional about hiring and creating opportunities for the many gifted and talented men and women of color that I knew would add tremendous value for the agency and our clients, and at the same time, help change the narrative and begin to generate more Diversity AND Inclusion in the advertising and marketing industries.
YOU CREATED THE BARBERSHOP RAP SESSION SERIES – BRIEFLY TELL OUR READERS MORE ABOUT THIS INITIATIVE.
Barbershop Rap Sessions is a Tru Access property that leverages the Barbershop (a trusted venue in the black community) as a safe space for people to meet and have facilitated dialogue on issues and matters that impact us all. These dialogues are designed to help the community and all of its members and stakeholders to co-create and collaborate on thoughts, ideas, and solutions that serve the greater good of all. The people come together and have courageous conversations about very sensitive and often uncomfortable topics, to hear the diverse perspectives of others and identify ways that they can all best co-exist and move forward together while creating the safest, healthiest and most inclusive community for all to thrive. And I cannot stress enough as to how important it is to have safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Just because a topic makes us uncomfortable, that does not absolve us from the responsibility of addressing it.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES REGARDING ISSUES SURROUNDING DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND POLICING WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY?
Simply get to know others. This includes members of Law Enforcement. Get to know the people in your community that are different from you. Different races, cultures, religions, genders, professions, etc. Too often our sources of information about people that don’t look like us, only comes from people that look like us. Go to the source. We must remember – a trusted information source is not the same thing as a credible information source.
“And I cannot stress enough as to how important it is to have safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Just because a topic makes us uncomfortable, that does not absolve us from the responsibility of addressing it.”