This D&I Newsletter Special Report is dedicated to Black History Month. The D&I Taskforce hopes to uplift Black voices, celebrate Black achievements, and highlight moments of reflection and remembrance of Black History.
There’s a plethora of research that covers the racism, discrimination, and unfair treatment that Black Americans face. This attitude persists despite the efforts of diversity initiatives. As dedicated D&I contributors, colleagues, professionals, it’s up to us to set the standard of how to eradicate discrimination and bias in the workplace—conscious and unconscious—and, in the process, encourage the inclusion of all employees. Recognizing and celebrating employees’ racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can be effective in building psychological safety and employee engagement. Race in the workplace can be a touchy subject, and many organizations try to be “colorblind” in a misguided attempt at establishing equality. When companies downplay demographic differences, it increases underrepresented employees’ perception of bias from their white colleagues and reduces engagement in work. Don’t be colorblind. Openly discuss, embrace, and be proud of unique cultural and different ethnic backgrounds.
What is Black History Month?
African American History Month, also called Black History Month, is a month-long commemoration of African American history that takes place each February in the United States.
How Did Black History Month Get Started?
The idea for an African American History Month was first brought to the table by historian, author, and journalist Carter G. Woodson in partnership with members of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Woodson is recognized as the “father of black history” and pushed for national recognition of black stories and perspectives.
Together Woodson and his Association organized a Negro History Week, beginning in February 1926. They selected the month of February because it was close to the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln, who had been responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation, and the African American orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Over the next 50 years, Negro History Week grew in popularity, with American cities initiating their own celebrations of Black achievements. The civil rights movement also contributed to its popularity. Negro History Week was expanded to become African American History Month in 1976, with President Gerald Ford urging Americans to participate in its observance.
What is the Legacy of Black History Month?
Carter G. Woodson believed that equality was only possible with the acknowledgment and understanding of a race’s history. He dedicated his life to the study of African-American historical research. Woodson also hoped that the time would come when Black History Month would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. 2020 was a year wrought with hardship all around, but especially within the Black community. Millions marched around the country in peaceful protest to the March 13 police killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, an unarmed EMT who was fatally shot in her own home. Soon after in May, the world watched again as viral footage of George Floyd’s murder by police became widely circulated throughout the media. Such visceral and heartbreaking images serve as a stark reminder of the power and responsibility of the media and that there is still much work to be done before Justice and Equality for all, as well as Woodson’s dreams, can be realized.
Culture & Engagement
The PMG Collective: A list of resources to inspire, entertain and encourage
Through the collective efforts and contributions of several Palisades Media Group team members, the D&I team has selected a handful of movies, books, and inspirational figures to highlight for Black History Month.
Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary (Documentary)
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
What’s it about: The documentary follows students and staff at Lucy Laney Elementary in North Minneapolis as their leaders set out undo history of being one of the state's lowest-performing schools. Through their stories, the impact of race, poverty, and trauma on student performance are brought to light but the inspiring stories told throughout the documentary give viewers hope and motivation despite the pain and situation.
Why it is recommended: “As a parent, I found the “Love them first” mantra to be an important reminder of what all children need including my own”- Casey Brathwaite
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Film)
Where to find it: Netflix
What’s it about: This powerful film is an adaptation of August Wilson's play by the same name, that follows a day in the life of legendary blues singer Ma Rainey as she joins her band in a turbulent recording session. The film explores how Ma Rainey, a minority female, deals with the challenges brought on by her predominantly white and male management team.
Why it is recommended: The film sheds light on the 'behind the curtain' magic of how these iconic songs came to life. We don't often get a peek at how these recordings came together and the film does that in a very emotional way, featuring arguably some of the most talented black actors of our time.
The Souls of Black Folks (Non-Fiction)
Author: W.E.B DuBois
What’s it about: The book by the late civil rights activist, scholar, professor, and one of the founders of the NAACP examines his observations and understanding of Black people during the early 1900s. the book offers an assessment of the progress of Blacks, the obstacles to that progress, and the possibilities for future progress as a nation as we entered the twentieth century.
Why is it recommended: “When I first learned of W.E.B Du Bois it gave me a firsthand perspective on what life was like for Black people during his time and how the psychological trauma they experienced then is still with us today. I recommend his book “The Souls of Black Folk” as a read to learn more about Black History and how this history impacts us all in America.”- Jerron Taylor
Amanda Gorman (National Youth Poet Laureate/Activist)
About the inspiration: California native and Harvard graduate Amanda Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and has exploded on the National stage through her powerful inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb” and Super Bowl poem “Chorus of the Captains” that captured the attention of millions and inspired even more.
Poem excerpt (The Miracle of Morning):While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,
Our people have never been more closely tethered.
The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
See the full list of recommended resources here. #LiveLoveLearn
PMG Diversity Spotlight
Highlighting the voices of our incredible talent, their stories, and the impact diversity and inclusion have on their lives.
Senior Buyer, Audio & Local Video
"Black History month is important to ME because REPRESENTATION MATTERS. I believe it is critical for our young black children to see a reflection of themselves in this World. Representation eliminates limitations! Representation matters to the young black child who loves animals and dreams of one day becoming a Veterinarian. How awesome is it to know there are Black Veterinarians and that a little black child’s dream is viable?
My OB-GYN at Cedars Sinai Hospital was a Black Woman. My son had no knowledge of this, a year ago he was in Cotillion and one of the board members of the social committee who sponsored the cotillion, happened to be Dr. Gail Jackson, my former OB-GYN and the doctor who delivered my son. I introduced Tai to the Black Woman who brought him into this world! To say he was stunned is an understatement. Priceless. Representation matters.
I believe Black History month is important to Palisades Media Group because it commemorates the diverse culture our company is now heightening. We are becoming more reflective of diverse America and it’s important to recognize the equality and beauty this diversity beholds."
Find more Black History Month Spotlight Submissions here.
Exploring Crenshaw Blvd: Food for the Soul
Do you have a local mom-and-pop restaurant you frequent, where they know your name and your order? Small businesses are the heart and soul of neighborhoods, as they create a sense of community and provide a space for all to enjoy! Check out a few of our favorite minority-owned small businesses that we visited to get our grub on!
Taco Mell Catering
If you are a foodie this is definitely a place you need to try! At the age of 21, owner Jermelle Henderson had a daughter to raise and was working as a security guard. In order to make extra money, he started serving tacos. He started off by only making tacos for friends and catering for parties. He eventually opened his 1st brick and mortar shop, Taco Mell in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. Featured in Eater Los Angeles, he is known for his amazingly delicious flavors and for his infamous 3 meat burrito consisting of carne asada, chicken, and shrimp. He has now grown his business and opened a second restaurant called The Court Café serving southern brunch specialties like Lobster + Waffles, Crab Cake Omelette, and Shrimp + Grits.
Taco Mell is located at 4326 Crenshaw Blvd. and The Court Cafe is located at 5496 W Centinela Ave.
Our Team’s Recommendations: Shrimp Tacos, Surf & Turf Burrito, Chicken & Steak Burrito
IG: @tacomellcatering & @thecourtcafe_inc
Southern Girl Desserts
Co-owned by Catarah Coleman and Shoneji Robison and founded in 2007, these ladies combined their family southern recipes to create dessert masterpieces. Both ladies were born and raised in Florida and met when they relocated to Los Angeles and it is here where they felt the need to bring some of their southern home cooking to Los Angeles. The ladies were contestants on Food Network Cupcake Wars and ended up winning the show and catering for the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, a black-tie gala. Their desserts range anywhere from their daily specials of red velvet, sweet potato and lemon to their featured specialty flavors such as Chicken & Waffle, Pecan Pie Coconut and Hennessy & Coke. They are located inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall at 3650 West Martin Luther King Blvd. Suite 100, LA, CA 90008
Our Team’s Recommendations: Lemon Cheesecake Cake, Butter Pound Cake, Red Velvet Cupcake
Recruitment, Mentorship, & Retention
Tackling the Issue of Unconscious Bias
As part of our D&I initiative at Palisades Media, our team recognized the importance of increasing our own awareness of how Unconscious Bias affects our thinking and decisions in the workplace. Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from our tendency as human beings to organize our social worlds by categorizing. Our goal was to understand where these biases may manifest themselves in the workplace and how we can eliminate them wherever possible through new awareness.
A starting point toward increasing understanding and awareness for all of our employees on this topic is education. We reached out to James Kinney, a bi-coastal HR executive, author, and speaker, to present training sessions on Unconscious Bias to all levels of employees at Palisades. Kinney uses neuroscience, emotional intelligence, performance psychology, and innovative behavior-based practice to help organizations and people build authentic, high-performing cultures and careers.
With the knowledge gained in the training, we can acknowledge that understanding the science and practical applications of unconscious bias can help any person or organization become more inclusive – which leads to a more diverse and overall high-performing culture.
In our workshops, we covered seven common forms of unconscious bias in the workplace: 1) Affinity bias; 2) Gender bias; 3) Name bias; 4) Racial bias; 5) Attraction bias; 6) Halo/Horns bias, and 7) Herd mentality bias.
The feedback from these workshops was very positive; and this educational training has led to increased awareness and effectiveness in recruiting, interviewing, group dynamics, and interpersonal relationships within our workplace.
Follow this link to learn more on Unconscious Bias and James Kinney's workshop.