Imagine, for the moment, the world’s information highway, an always-changing, fast-moving, and remarkably noisy freeway of all things communications. It’s a complex ecosystem with a broad universe of disciplines in the communications toolbox. With Public relations, advertising, and marketing merging onto the social, digital, radio, print, and broadcast media speedway. An electric race where everyone is competing for lane position to grab the attention of the already overwhelmed, fatigued, and fragmented audience. The distribution channels (the on/off ramps) for narrative framing are equally vast, complex, and ever-changing. Here, information-design, production, and curation take center stage.
I understand how the power of influence and its close relationship with words can reshape our reality. I also know the catastrophic consequences of a failed communications ecosystem. We need not look further than our elected leaders whose absence of credibility and a unified messaging strategy to combat the global pandemic, the social injustice and political violence crippling our resolve, and the bigotry igniting the flames of hate. With turbulence an everyday occurrence, confusion blanketing our decision making, and divisiveness authorized, we have successfully eroded trust in our institutions, governments, and global society by injecting into our veins, lies as truth. All of which has amplified extraordinary fractures in our democracy and our country’s failed promises. This negligence has openly greeted the intrusion of mis/disinformation, creating delusions of truth and furthering the polarization we currently inhabit. So impactful, it has dramatically altered how we consume and share information—creating pockets of a varying set of facts and beliefs.
As we near the end of the month of celebration, let’s also honor the historical animosities bestowed upon black people in America. I am acutely aware of the challenges before us. Despite the menu of pain on the buffet of prejudice towards a race of people, I must also acknowledge black folks’ resilience and perseverance. For many, being black in America has been a nauseating, painful, exhausting, and disorienting death sentence. My framing meant to reflect the unrelenting squeeze and the assault on our humanity wrapped in a bow disguised as policy; it has and is continuing to have dizzying side effects with inadequate recognition of the trauma it delivers.
As a black man in America, I am often racially profiled. I have been pulled over for driving while black, harassed, and physically harmed by law enforcement. I have been accused of cheating because my work was too good. Cheered and adored for scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs, and breaking track and field records. However, some of those same folks in the stands discarded my request to break bread as an equal with my white brothers and sisters. The undercurrent of these injustices hurt, bequeathing generations of folks who look like me to wonder about our purpose and usefulness. It pains me to know that we live in a society where I need to march in the proclamation that #BlackLivesMatter, notwithstanding, knowing that my black life is #Valued disproportionally less. Should hatred be your poison of choice for disseminating malice, might you bestow it upon me for reasons other than my race, for I had no choice in the matter.
As a lifetime subscriber to inclusivity, I can validate the advantages of implementing an open-door policy where all walks of life are welcome. I am an efficacious listener with a natural affinity for cultivating relationships and building consensus with diverse perspectives. I aim to advance a fair, balanced, prosperous, and just society. My rebuke of the hatred and injustice outlined above is not a unilateral condemnation against the white race, yet reserved for those who gaze upon my skin’s hue with the hatred I have yet to earn. In parallel, some of my most vocal advocates, supporters, friends, and loved ones see not my pigment with disapproval but the humanity within my beating heart. They see a loving, caring, committed, optimistic, introspective, accepting, forgiving, and welcoming soul.
Interestingly, I see Rural America just the same. The loving, caring, committed, optimistic, introspective, accepting, forgiving, and welcoming backbone of this country. Often finding themselves being brushed aside, overlooked, underestimated, marginalized, and undervalued—a place to send the leftovers. Based on my lived experiences and having lived in the rural west for many years, I saw pride and a genuine appreciation for community—people working tirelessly to be elevated to a higher plateau so they may be seen and valued.
As with social justice, intentionality is more profound in advocating for a more equitable playing field for rural folks. Among them, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), where I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors. RCAP and its six regional partners have cemented their commitment to creating a more vibrant and thriving rural America.
To everyone designing solutions for a more balanced and just society, I applaud your courage and appreciate your generosity!
“Bursting at the seams to be all that I can be; however, all I can be is what I am, uniquely tangled with how I am; a wandering soul searching to elevate hope into closer proximity. An enigma pondering all that matters, opposing the gravitational force of nothing matters. Yet I still search for what’s possible in a world where I’m told anything is possible; however, facing a reality that nothing seems possible in my honest and humble request to be elevated to a more visible plateau so I can be seen, my value realized and to put on display the who I am.”