Our Country Can Do Better My Perspective on Race, Religion, and What Divides Us AUGUST 2020 GIBSONLAWGROUP.COM (817) 769-4044 DIVING DOWN WITH GLG
As I’m writing this, our country is dealing with two major events: rising cases of COVID-19 in many states and protests against racism and police brutality in all 50. We’ve had thousands of people protest here in Dallas since the death of George Floyd. These events pushed me to examine my own beliefs. I grew up in Corpus Christi. The majority of the city’s population was Hispanic, and I didn’t notice racism until college, where I wound up with a roommate from Kansas City. Before then, I hadn’t given a thought to the fact that my girlfriend and the majority of my friends were Hispanic, but he had a different worldview. That’s when I realized how arbitrarily people in our country can be divided based on the color of their skin. Since then, I’ve continued learning about these issues. I was amazed to find out at my East Coast law school, for example, how polarizing a figure Christopher Columbus is. All I knew about the guy before then was from a nursery rhyme. In Honduras, where my wife and I visit often, the locals actually hold a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Columbus’s genocidal arrival that they call Carnival. Meanwhile, here in America, statues of the man have been beheaded this summer. Our wounds still seem fresh here. The older I’ve gotten, the more dedicated I’ve become to condemning racism and treating everyone equally. To be honest, I think that the rest of our country could learn a lot from how businesses operate in Dallas. This is a multicultural city. My neighbors, friends, clients, and I have different skin colors, but we all complain about the Cowboys and watch the same movies in the theater. Since I started my firm, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences working with people from all over the globe. And I don’t think it’s just me — I think it’s the business world. My clients include individuals of different nationalities and races from different socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, but at the end of the day, they all care about the same thing: making money to support their families. In the 17 years I’ve had my own firm, I have had Jewish clients who work with Muslim clients, Pakistani clients who work with Indian clients, and clients of every color and religion doing business with clients of every other color and religion. Our clients just aren’t concerned about race or religion in their business dealings. They’re concerned about making smart deals. Often, they even joke together about their supposed differences.
I’m not in any way trying to say that racism, classism, and religious discrimination don’t exist in Dallas. They do. Our system is broken. I know for a fact that one of my black Ethiopian clients would have a harder time getting a loan from Bank of America than one of my white clients. It’s wrong, but it’s the truth. I’ve come up against that kind of systemic racism firsthand when working on behalf of my clients, and I’ve done everything I can to help them navigate those challenges. What I’m trying to say is that I wish that things were different. I wish the rest of society was as egalitarian as I aim to be in my office. Our country can do better, and it should do better. We shouldn’t need to protest or tear down statues to get people to understand the importance of equality. The violence, racism, and destruction in the news these last few months have been difficult to watch, but maybe this is what we need in order to learn. We’re still a long way from poking fun at our past like the people of Honduras do at Carnival. Right now, as we work toward being a better state and a better country, I’m proud that at least I can say with confidence that everyone is welcome in my office. You won’t encounter racism here, and if you do, call us out on it! Let me know if you have an uncomfortable interaction so that my team can improve. I want you to be as happy to work with me as I am to work with you.
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