The U.S. has seen an intense amount of civil unrest as people are making their voices heard over racial inequality throughout society. At Goodwin, we actively denounce racism and strive to become the most inclusive firm in the legal industry. We must all do our part to address exclusion and inequity of all types, especially anti-black racism.
Panel moderator and Goodwin Sr. Manager of Multimedia Production Jay Bramble kicked off the event with this keynote statement:
“Sports is that rare connective tissue that unites us as people regardless of race, class, background or beliefs. So when sports and social issues collide it often sparks a wide range of emotions in our society.”
Joined by ESPN writer and reporter Kimberley A. Martin, former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion Jermaine Wiggins, NBA journalist A. Sherrod Blakely and Boston sports reporter Christopher L. Gasper, the panel began by noting recent examples of professional athletes in various leagues using their platforms to speak out against racial injustice.
Here, Jermaine Wiggins comments on the impact black athletes have when speaking out or demonstrating against racial injustice:
The panelists maintained that statements and actions against racism by public figures are challenging people to become comfortable with an uncomfortable topic. The first step towards solving any problem is acknowledging the problem, and athletes are empowered, now more than ever before, to turn up the volume on objections to racial inequities. This increased visibility places a greater responsibility on the owners, executives and coaches of these professional teams, shared A. Sherrod Blakely:
Actions and words do not come without the potential of backlash. Players, coaches and even executives engaged in activism face frequent criticism for their choices. Chris Gasper explains why such criticism is often unfounded:
Kimberley Martin further elaborates on Gasper’s point regarding how fans can continue to support athletes of color speaking up and encouraging players to come together in support of anti-racism:
Goodwin’s Prisnel Dominique, Managing Director of User Experience, invited Goodwin colleagues to continue having these conversations with one another and announced the exciting launch of a new internal employee resource group with the goal of promoting the gathering, recruitment, retention, and career mobility of Black professionals at the firm. Additionally, the group aims to develop educational opportunities and offer a sense of community, belonging, a safe space environment, and increase internal and external allyship. Called BOLD, Black Organization for Leadership and Development, the group will strive to engage in BOLD dialogue and push and press for BOLD action.
Goodwin extends its thanks to Kimberley, Jermaine, Sherrod and Chris for their valuable insights and advice on how to approach conversations and manage emotions tied to racial injustice, and most importantly, on what it means to be an ally.