Hearing the Screams

Guest Correspondence

BY MARK PRITCHETT SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JUN 20, 2020

Author, entrepreneur and all-around big thinker Seth Godin wrote an incisive blog last week on privilege (without ever using the word). In his brief, thoughtful post, Godin riffed on a classic comic in which a surprised goldfish says to its tank-mate, “Wait, there’s water?”

The metaphor here: Those who benefit most from a system can be oblivious to the very conditions that make it so. Godin refers specifically to “the dominant culture.”

A dominant culture can easily morph into the “tyranny of the majority.” Alexis de Tocqueville saw this potential blind spot in our young nation during the 1800s. He suggested that the power of the majority can crush a minority without even hearing its screams.

Recently, we have heard those tragic screams in Minneapolis, Atlanta and throughout our country. The outrage is real. And it is our duty as citizens of our representative democracy to check and transform the institutions that have turned a deaf ear to them.

American communities, including ours, face a reckoning. Persistent gaps in educational achievement, health status and wealth have been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our region’s communities of color and residents living in poverty are disproportionately impacted by negative health and economic outcomes. We can’t ignore their screams anymore.

So how do we change a dominant culture, in our communities and our public institutions? We have to change people’s hearts and minds. And we can only change hearts through listening, civil dialogue and wanting the best that life has to offer for everyone.

At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we hold our values as true north: integrity, leadership, collaboration, and excellence. By integrity, we mean demonstrating an unwavering commitment to trust, transparency, civility, and inclusion. We ask our partners to hold us accountable. We urge you to work together with us to achieve our vision of thriving communities with opportunities for all.

The screams of indignation and rage will keep igniting if we allow the embers of inequity and injustice to smolder. The water has to reach everyone.

To read Seth Godin’s blog on “The dominant culture,” go here.

Mark S. Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

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