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Minnesota is a great place to live, unless you’re black. It’s a saying I’ve heard time and time again, and for many persistent disparities in education, income, and home ownership confirm it.
As we enter our second year of the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity (MBCRE), our more than 70 member companies continue to work for a more prosperous state with and for black people in Minnesota, which we believe will benefit all. Our coalition members are large companies such as Best Buy, US Bank and 3M, and smaller companies such as Children’s Minnesota, Delta Dental of Minnesota and Great Clips.
Racial equity work lacks a track record, and yet the periodic killings of black people by police here and across the country – like George Floyd, Daunte Wright and Amir Locke – continue to underscore a need for resources and systems that guarantee a higher level of public safety, so that everyone has the chance to live their best life.
Growing up in the vibrant black community of my hometown of Detroit, I knew racial inequality was woven into the fabric of our nation, but it wasn’t until I went to college and landed my first job that I am often found the only black person. or person of color in the room.
This strong feeling of otherness made me feel like I had no say. It dumbed down the woman my mother and my village had sacrificed for me to become. As I worked my way up the corporate ladder, which involved moving to Minneapolis, my early career experiences stayed with me and made me want to make sure others feel that they can bring the fullness of who they are not just to work, but to all aspects of their lives. .
As the MBCRE considered all of the needs, we decided to create smaller working groups, which we called pillars. We focused on politics, philanthropy, workplace and alliance. Our goal was to identify ways in which the business community could harness and deploy its collective resources and expertise in the name of justice and prosperity for black people in Minnesota.
We have hired a lobbyist to reach out to lawmakers and help us advance policies centered on racial equity that are also supported by our business community. We have created a best practices guide for companies of all sizes to establish and/or improve their diversity, equity and inclusion practices. And we’ve gathered resources and allied materials to foster a more welcoming environment for Black Minnesota employees employed by MBCRE member companies.
I am grateful for the commitment of our members to lead initiatives and contribute financial and in-kind resources to our coalition. And I am grateful to the employee representatives who give generously of their time, which goes well beyond their daily work.
Before becoming CEO of MBCRE almost a year ago, something in my mind called for change. Although this new role required me to take a detour down the fast track of my career at General Mills, I felt the opportunity would help me channel the grief and heaviness I had carried after the murder of George Floyd, who has followed me through the pandemic.
Funnily enough, it was the day of Floyd’s tragic death that I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son, DJ. From that moment I felt there was something more I was meant to do. When my two sons grow up, I want to be able to tell them that, in the midst of racial reckoning, their mother and father stepped up and showed leadership. It also felt right to respond to a call I felt deep in my soul. I am grateful that General Mills understands that racial equity is a business imperative and gives me the space to apply the skills I learned there as a General Manager to the leadership of MBCRE.
I am proud that the Minnesota business community is actively partnering and advocating on behalf of Black Minnesotans to co-create a vision of equal economic opportunity and a chance for everyone to prosper.
One of the important things for MBCRE — because it matters to black people in Minnesota — was to take a stand on public safety. We were formed in the wake of a public safety tragedy two years ago, so it was critical for us to deliver reform measures and investments that build trust between community members and law enforcement. ‘order.
We recently wrote a letter to our lawmakers about the importance of law enforcement accountability, arguing:
- Enhance the intervention efforts of the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Council to include revocation or suspension of licensure when officers have a pattern of misconduct or complaint.
- Body-worn cameras and other technologies for training.
- Co-responder models that provide law enforcement alternatives as needed, including investing in crime prevention and youth intervention.
- Funding for recruitment and retention of officers to increase diversity.
We need to stop oversimplifying racial equity as the right thing to do. In fact, a 2018 study found that the US economy could grow by $8 trillion by 2050 if the country eliminated racial disparities in health, education, incarceration and employment. would also strengthen the country’s competitiveness for decades to come.
According to the Alana Community Brain Trust, the opportunity cost of racism in Minnesota, via lost income, lack of property, tax burdens and business losses, is estimated at $287 billion. Building a fairer and more prosperous state isn’t about being nice to Minnesota, our economic future depends on it.
Tiffani Daniels is Executive Director of the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity and Chief Brand Officer for General Mills.