At The Collective Book Studio®, we’re committed to educating ourselves and always trying to do better. As part of that commitment, in our last blog, we shared resources for Talking to Your Kids About #BlackLivesMatter. And this week we wanted to share a blog post written by one of our forthcoming authors, Bob Lesser. Bob has a remarkable career, having founded and run a charter school in the South Bronx, worked at the epicenter of the nation’s largest and most ambitious school-reform effort, and helped rebuild police-community relations at the NYPD. Now as an executive coach, he works to empower others to become their best selves and build meaningful, successful organizations. His book The Peak Performance Formula, which will be released in Spring 2021, offers stories of people who are peak performers along with guided activities, research, and case studies from neuroscience, psychology, and religion, examining what makes leaders effective.We hope you will find his words illuminating and we hope they will equip you with the right language to counter ignorance and bias when you encounter it.

For those having trouble understanding how systemic racism works (aka the “All Lives Matter” folks) we hope this helps.

If you are a person of color in this country, you are marginalized from the day you are born to the day you die. Here’s how:

Because of your race you are more likely to be born in a poor neighborhood…

The poverty rate for black Americans in this country is more than 3 times higher than for white Americans. This began with slavery and the years of formal and informal discriminatory housing and employment practices which followed.

Because you live in a poor neighborhood you are more likely to go to an underperforming school…

Compared to wealthier counterparts this school has fewer resources, less experienced teachers and lower expectations for you.

As a result you have received an education which makes you less likely to graduate from high school and, if you do, less likely to be prepared for college…

The high school I went to in New York City, a magnet school in the Bronx, where only 3% of the student body is black had 100% college readiness rates compared to the Bronx average, schools with primarily black and Latino students, of just 45%.

Because of your lack of educational opportunity and discriminatory practices in the workplace you earn and save less…

According to a Brookings Institute study in 2020, the net worth of a typical white family is more than 10 times the net worth of a black family. In 2015, median incomes for black men were $42,076 while median income for white men was $60,388. According to one analysis, black men earn $.87 for every $1 earned by a white man in a similar job.

In one study, black job applicants were half as likely as equally qualified white applicants to receive a call back or job offer.

You face greater obstacles to securing a mortgage to buy a home…

The practice of red-lining, where banks and other mortgage lenders reject loans for otherwise creditworthy borrowers based on their race, has been going on for years. For blacks and Latinos that are able to secure loans they can be charged higher interest rates and heftier refinance fees than white borrowers.

Because of the color of your skin you are more likely to be stopped and searched by police…

In 2019, 88% of all people stopped and frisked by police in New York City were black or Latino compared with only 9% who were white.

And if you do make a mistake and break the law you are likely treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than your white counterpart…

A Sentencing Project report on the inequities in the criminal justice system gives the following example. “Police officers are more likely to stop black and Hispanic drivers for investigative reasons. Once pulled over, people of color are more likely than whites to be searched, and blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested…Prosecutors and judges also often treat blacks and Hispanics more harshly in their charging and sentencing decisions.”

Health crises, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately impact you…

Many of the front-line (low wage) essential jobs belong to people of color due to the educational obstacles and workplace discrimination at play. And thanks to housing discrimination many people of color face they live in less desirable areas with unhealthy air quality, in older buildings, with less access to healthy foods all creating the conditions for greater numbers of underlying health conditions. And due to harsher treatment in policing, prosecution and sentencing Black Americans are overrepresented in the prison system which puts them at the center of another pandemic hotspot.

Finally, because of your race you are more likely to die younger…

All of the above adds up to literally years off one’s life. White Americans live longer than black Americans. In one study, the death rate of black participants was 70% higher than whites.

Add on the multiple other ways that public and private institutions treat people of color unfairly and you can clearly see the systemic forces that disadvantage people of color in this country. It is not fair, not right, and must change.

Bob Lesser

Bob Lesser is a founder, psychotherapist, and Executive Coach. In his coaching practice Bob works with high performers across a variety of industries. Bob has taught leadership at the New School for Social Research and has conducted training internationally. He received his Masters Degree from Harvard University where he studied leadership, management, and conflict resolution. Bob lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three children.

www.boblesser.com

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