SII Statement On Racial Injustice
By Dr. Meeta Kothare and Madison Gove
As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, and our nation reckons with its long history of systemic racism, we at the SII are reflecting on our mission and what we can do to serve it better. We realize that we have to do more. Our mission requires us to respond with a greater focus on achieving a just and equitable society that lives in a healthy relationship with our planet.
The numbers speak for themselves. For instance, the number of operating Black-owned businesses declined by 41% between February 2020 and April 2020. Operating white-owned businesses declined by 17%. The pandemic’s closures disproportionately hit minority workers, with 15.6% of Blacks unemployed and 14.5% of Latinos unemployed in June 2020 compared to 10.8% of Whites. Less well known is the fact the environmental inequality is closely related to socioeconomic inequality. For instance, one study found that “whites experience about 17 percent less air pollution than they produce, through consumption, while blacks and Hispanics bear 56 and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they cause by their consumption.” Another found that Blacks are more likely to live in a food desert than their white counterparts.
We at the SII will continue to inform, educate, and learn from our students, colleagues, and partners. Words and reflections are not enough. We hope that the companies that have stepped forward during these crises will sustain their efforts and continue to push for change once the news cycle has passed, and that all businesses will pursue sustainability in all its forms.
A generation of change can start now.
Academics must change if we are to prepare our future business leaders to acknowledge and address racism in every sector. Therefore, the SII team pledges to:
- Work on our biases and limitations,
- Be humble about what we do not know, and commit to lifelong learning,
- Listen to our underrepresented students’ concerns about their experience in school or in the workplace,
- Feature programming that includes diverse perspectives, discusses racial inequality, and reaches diverse audiences, and
- Support research and teachings on the interconnection between social prosperity, economic development, and environmental protection
We encourage you to commit to doing your part to uproot our broken system. To start, you can:
- Learn about the past, and stay informed about the present. Here is a list of resources we like. If you are a student, seek out classes with a focus on racial justice, and take advantage of learning opportunities like speakers and competitions.
- Take a bias test, and learn how to combat your biases. You may discover biases you were not aware of!
- Invest financially in communities of color. You can also invest your time through volunteering. Check out UT GivePulse for ideas!
- Do a deep dive on racism in your industry (or future industry).
- Share what you are learning! Have open, honest discussions with friends
- Speak up if you see acts of hate or microaggressions, whether in your personal life or at work.
The SII Team