Addressing Racial Equity in a Time of Crisis Video Transcript
Logo, Global Alliance for Banking on values. In a graphic, two sides of a city connect with a bridge. Text, Addressing Racial Equity During a Time of Crisis
Hello again. Welcome back to another learning journey. Our first destination is Marnita’s Table, located in Minneapolis uptown neighborhood. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. [UPBEAT MUSIC]
Text, Learning Journey. A graphic opens of a bus traveling along a street map.
A label points to a red dot on the map. Text, Marnita’s Table. The label opens and an aerial photo shows the location of Marnita’s Table in an urban neighborhood.
Every single human is part of lots of systems, were part of our education systems, our neighborhood systems, our governmental systems. So the individual choices that we make have to do with resetting a culture for inclusion and equity. We’re not asking you to ask about what those people should do, to improve the world. It’s what you can do. How would you like to be treated? What would matter to you on your block, in your neighborhood in feeling welcome?
In photos, Marnita speaks at public events. She wears a flower crown on her shaved head. Text, Marnita, C-E-O & Social Capitalist, Marnita’s Table
When I was born as a mixed person in the United States, in 17 states of the United States, my body was evidence of a felony, meaning that if my biological family had lived in one of those 17 states, that they could be arrested for a felony for giving birth to me. And for being in a mixed relationship, a mixed ethnic relationship. And it was still enough of a stigma for whites and Blacks to be married in 1962.
That I am listed as white on my birth certificate, and when my melanin came in at seven months, my biological grandmother gave my biological mother the option of being disowned, or putting me into the foster care system.
So I was placed into the foster care system at seven months old. And until I was 2 and 1/2 I was in 3 homes and I ended up living with a family the Schroedl which is my last name now. Who’s an Irish, German conservative family.
I grew up in a little town called Arlington, Washington. It’s 60 miles North of Seattle, and its claim to fame, and I was the only Black person in the town, was that they had the largest population of Ku Klux Klan west of the Mississippi.
And so I grew up in an environment that was very hostile to me as a Black person, and I was the only Black person they burnt crosses in our yard, they tried to keep me from attending the elementary school because they thought that I would destroy the school system, when I was brought into the community and into the family.
And then I was sent home in 8th grade for my own protection, when the students started chanting kill the n-word, and locked arms. And they threw milk cartons and apple cores, and were chanting that I should be killed on the playground.
A photo of Marnita beaming, her palms pressed together above her heart
I left home at 16 because I never felt like I belonged. I never felt like I was welcome anywhere. I attempted suicide four times before I was 16 years old. I decided that if anybody knocked on my door, I would never make them feel unwelcome, that I would always make a meal for them, that I would always make them feel as though they had a place.
In photos, people of different races, ages, genders, and ethnicities share a meal together. A black woman wearing a bright yellow hijab sits next to a white man wearing a baseball cap and camo
And it wasn’t until I was literally sitting in a room when I was in my early 40s, working on a project with the target senior leadership team. And I heard about how they used experience engineering to move people through spaces, and to make them feel good about spending money, and I thought that’s, it that’s what we need for racism, that’s what we need to build community. We need an experience that makes people want to do it.
People of all races, ages, and genders gather at a venue filled with large round tables
Women hold hands in a circle.
A woman laughs with a microphone in her hand
A person wearing a red hat and pantsuit shakes hands with a woman wearing a dress.
A pair of women wearing flower crowns stand arm in arm smiling brightly
A woman wears a flower crown over her braids
A group of teens stands together laughing
Children and families form a large circle
Humans shouldn’t just be a transaction, they should be somebody who’s valued, and cherished and honored. That’s kind of our biggest calling in the world. [GENTLE MUSIC]
People laugh together at the gathering
A group smiles brightly with flowers in their hair
We invented a human centered technology called Intentional Social Interaction and Digital Intentional Social Interaction. IZI and DIZZI as we call them. Those are their nicknames.
Open parentheses D, closed parentheses, I-Z-I Consulting. Our model of intentional social interaction is designed to transfer to those who we serve.
And we’ve now had almost 100,000 people to come together across difference, to have a meaningful conversation, and to find common ground.
Photos flash of people of different ages and races and genders and hair color
We develop them because so much of race equity training wasn’t working, and it wasn’t having the intended impact that we were expecting it to have. And we wanted to have something that was a practice, that helped you build a muscle for being more inclusive, for making people feel as though they belonged.
When you come into the space we have hospitality guides, and from the moment that you come in, what you are experiencing no matter what color, what ethnicity, what your socioeconomic background is, what your gender or sexual identity is, is the feeling of being authentically welcomed. With somebody say I am so glad you’re here.
People of all races gather together and smile
It is bounded by a feast that is appropriate from vegan to carnivore. And so that everybody may get what they need, and even in Digital Intentional Social Interaction, we work with the people who are participating and we send a meal to their entire family. We make sure that they have a forward facing camera. So we took all of this technology, and it’s literally DIZZI and IZZI itself our technologies. Digital Intentional Social Interaction and Intentional Social Interaction make communities who are diverse come together more effectively.
Woman chat at a round table.
A woman wearing a hijab addresses an audience
a woman smiles brightly wearing an embroidered tunic and a feathered headdress
My lived experience made me want to stand up for people who may be marginalized like I was. My lived experience said, I don’t think the world would have been a better place if I were dead. I don’t think the world would be better if I didn’t exist. And what does it look like to create a space where everybody is valued? [SOFT MUSIC]
An Asian woman smiles wearing a butterfly crown
What a great organization. Marnita’s Table is so unique in what it does. And what an accomplishment to be able to continue fostering togetherness through the pandemic, at a time when we’re all apart. One thing that’s neat about Marnita’s work is that it produces tangible results.
Their website states 36% of the over 63,000 people who have come to the table in the past 15 years, have voluntarily reported one of the following outcomes. More likely to welcome the other into their homes. Understands more about the other. Increased leadership capacity and opportunities for people of color.
Continues to collaborate with others individually or organizationally with someone they met at one three hour IZZI. Finds it much easier to connect across culture, and easier to connect about cross-cultural issues. Coming together and learning more about each other is so important, especially as we struggle with partisanship and a polarized political landscape. Kudos to Marnita’s Table for all they’re doing to bring folks together.
Now we’re headed to South Minneapolis where we’ll taste some authentic Jamaican cuisine, and learn about one small business owner who turned his restaurant into a relief organization following George Floyd’s death. Here you are 2525 Nicollet Avenue, South Minneapolis enjoy. [UPBEAT MUSIC]
Text, Learning Journey. A graphic opens of a bus traveling along a street map.
A label points to a red dot on the map. Text, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen. The label opens and a photo shows a street view of Pimento Jamaican Kitchen in an urban neighborhood. A man sits inside at a table next to the bar
Welcome home to Pimento. I’m Tomme Beavas, and I have the pleasure of leading Pimento Jamaican Kitchen right here in Minneapolis. But my story doesn’t start here as a restaurateur. It starts right in the kitchen of my grandmother Baby Lue on the streets of Kingston, even though she had built her own empire, she still use food to heal and connect her community.
And so pimento naturally embodies that spirit of my grandmother, Baby Lue, not just in the food but in its purpose. [SOFT MUSIC]
Trees line the sidewalk outside the restaurant and cars sit parked at the curb. Sign, Pimento, Authentic Jamaican Kitchen. Inside, a group orders at the counter.
After coming home from work every day missing my culture and my grandmother’s food right. I’d fire up the grill in my backyard and the neighbors would smell the food come over. And also my coworkers from my corporate job would know about the backyard vibes and so fast forward a year later, we took my backyard grill and $100, 10 from a local store.
And with those same friends and neighbors, and former co-workers serving as volunteers. We were able to take that little business and grow it into Pimento Jamaican Kitchen.
A painting of Bob Marley hangs on an exposed brick wall. An entree with chicken and sweet potatoes and slaw is paired with a tropical mixed drink
Growing up in Jamaica, I had the pleasure of watching my family build their own businesses from scratch. And so I had that natural entrepreneurial knack in my spirit. You know yet for some reason I was more passionate about helping others and serving communities. [SOFT MUSIC]
He wears a face mask in the kitchen as he fries potatoes, adds a sauce, then tosses them in a bowl.
George Floyd’s murder hit me as hard as it would hit any human who has human dignity, and human decency, and human respect for human life. I allowed myself to go on my garage, lock the door and watch the video, and allow myself to ball. And it’s because as somebody who has been in the food industry I’ve seen animals get harvested. And to see a human treat another human like one she’s an animal with very little regard for their humanity, it crushes one.
I wasn’t surprised like most black people whether it’s here in Minneapolis, or London, or Mombasa, or Lagos, or Kingston, or Port Au Prince, or Brazil we have these issues where authority is literally killing us.
A mural of George Floyd, flowers and paintings fill the space outside the Minneapolis convenience store where the murder took place.
And so I came in and I’m holding space for my employees the following day, which happened to me my birthday ironically. And I never heard on my birthday, when I’m like no I think I just got to go to work, we got to get through this together. And so there I am trying to compromise, my employees, I’m like don’t worry we’re just going to have a summit on this guys, and you’re like but wait wait, we’re hungry right now.
The supermarkets are closed due to COVID. And or due to being afraid of riots, we’re hurting right now. We can’t have a conversation about what the city or the system needs to do differently, we’re in pain.
And as a Jamaican I had to step back and listen to the African-Americans I understood the pain they felt or they feel. And I understand it’s a pain that none of us who quite honestly have lived that experience can really truly appreciate. And so the healing that has to be done was very important. And so as a result, while we decided to do was, we want to focus on the food portion of it.
Headline, Whittier’s Pimento Jamaican Kitchen reinvents itself as relief organization. Quote, The world is going to be watching and Minneapolis knows the world is watching. And we know that we can be that model city for the world.
Through the employees, and the community, and the volunteers. They organize their own food drive, and we’re thinking, Oh Yeah, we’ll get a couple of cases of water, maybe a paper towel. And within two to three days, we literally had to close our restaurant because we were overwhelmed with donations.
It was a great feeling to know that the rest of our neighbors, saw the video, felt our pain, showed up to do something, just anything. It was so powerful to see also the cadre of volunteers who came out. We had a full army of people who just showed up saying, I’m ready to help, put me in.
These are people who have never run a food bank, this doesn’t community saying we need food, we’re getting food and we’re distributing the food to our community. So quickly you have one line of cars, we took over the entire block, which is a three lane road, took over that entire block.
And you’d have one lane of traffic come in and down the street, where we had some people in the street directing traffic, signaling where people should go, almost like triaging in the middle of the streets. People collecting the donations, and then down the other block for blocks you just saw people who are waiting for food as well. We ensure that if nothing else we treated them with dignity, providing them water and help them. But we also used that as opportunity to really understand and hear what the community needed.
Signs, Wah Gwaan, What’s going on? Mi Deh Yah. I’m here. Food workers wear face masks as they cook and clean in the kitchen and fill takeout containers with food.
That’s the beauty of having a company that is truly reflective of the community. That was the first effort that we launched after Mr. Floyd was murdered because we recognize and heard directly from our community, they were hungry.
Sign, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen’s Day of Healing
But we also have to pivot and focus on the healing portion. So the following week after Mr. Floyd’s death, we then had yoga in the streets, where we had poetry, art, everybody coming out together to be like you know what we’re going to take care of each other. We’re going to heal each other. And so we had murals, painting, and even though across the city there are still ply boards on windows.
We then encouraged local artists to come out and decorate those ply boards. So they can reflect the pain, reflect the love, reflect their anger, reflect the hope of our community. It just moved from being a city that looked like a war zone to sort of like an artist utopia, where you just see rainbows everywhere, and everybody coming together loving on each other because we were all hurting.
Wow that makes me want to get back to Pimento very soon. Tomme and Pimento are doing such great things in the Twin Cities, we’re so lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.
According to an article from the University of Minnesota Pimento’s staff and volunteers fed more than 4,000 people, and raised $70,000 to provide emergency support following the Civil unrest in the Twin Cities. That’s amazing hats off to Tomme and Pimento.
To wrap things up for this leg of the journey, we’re going to head to a fireside chat with our CEO David Riley. It’s been great being your guide see you again soon. [GENTLE MUSIC]
In a graphic, two sides of a city connect with a bridge. Text, A Conversation on Equality
David Reiling, Marnita Schroedl, Tommy Beevas
A video chat
Marnita I’ll start with you today. And just really from your background, and you had mentioned both of us meeting in the Office of which I remember to this day. And maybe you just tell us kind of in brief, but give us some highlights of how you got to where you are today with Marnita’s Table, it’s quite a journey.
It is so Marnita’s Table was actually founded in 2005, when I was 16 years old. For those of you who don’t know what we do. We bring people together across race, class culture and other means of self-identity, to find common ground on major public policy issues. We took the technology that retailers use to make you happy to part with your money, and we repurposed it as an experience engineered model to make you happy to part with your preconceived notion of the other.
And now we’ve tested it on almost 100,000 people. We have been all over the world. And when it started in 2005. The first 14,000 people came to my house for the intentional social interaction experience. So when we started people said well, it’s you Marnita, it’s your hospitality. Nobody else could do this, and we said, no this is a model we can teach people how to do it.
I think when we started people thought, Oh wait, people are just coming to dinner. It’s just Marnita, she just host us. But in fact, what we built was an evaluation model for how effective we were. And in the last 16 years, now we have now trained. We have 27 master trainers, who are at my level of master training.
And then we have about 2000 people trained to be home hosts. And we were actually going to be exponentially growing last year, except where we had this little thing called COVID, and so we pivoted it was funny you used the word pivoted. And so when I first came to you, I was saying like this is an opportunity, we actually think this is going to grow.
And Sunrise Banks has been instrumental in our growth. Having a bank that knew us, it helped us get our PPP loans. I mean so much has happened. So as we’re having this conversation knowing that this is for a global banking audience that thinks about sustainable banking.
You know when we started I couldn’t get an appointment with any other bank, like you sat down with me for more than an hour. We weren’t very old at the time, you treated me with respect and dignity. You know and as a Black woman who came out of foster care, who was like, I’m going to take this model in my living room and I’m going to turn it into a national thing. And you took me seriously.
And we actually haven’t seen each other for a while. But guess what all those things I said and pulled up we did.
It’s like any entrepreneur. We’re just all a little crazy, and that’s OK, and that’s one of those big ideas come to fruition is when you can really see the vision. And you’ve just done an amazing job in taking this in your Marnita’s Table, your events, your engagement with step they have such impact on people. I just I see it over and over again.
And so Tomme I want to shift to you. Because our audience is going to see you in your background, and in your home country I believe Yes.
Yes, welcome to Jam Rock.
Yes, beautiful. And so Tomme take me take me through your story a little bit. Where– tell me about your roots, and how you got to Minnesota of all places?
My roots started right here on the beautiful island of Jamaica. Essentially, growing up in Kingston. And quite honestly growing up in Jamaica, one is used to seeing doctors who look like them. One is used to the prime minister looking like them. One is these two the police officers looking right at them.
And so I grew up with that Jamaican privilege of knowing that this is my land. And the world is my oyster. And that’s why no matter where one has visited around the world. One can find a Jamaican hidden in that little corner, you know what I’m saying. Whether it’s Finland or Iceland or Swaziland you’re going to find a Jamaican hang in there because we see the world as much bigger than our little rock.
And my story was, moving to the US for undergrad in political science and economics. I was passionate about coming back to Jamaica to lead government and everything. And it was volunteering in college in America, where I was like, whoa there’s some real issues here.
And volunteering in Miami for homeless shelters and I’m like OK some work needs to get done. And that’s where I sort of pivoted and moved into the corporate responsibility space, where I then moved from Florida to Washington D.C, where I interned at the US Chamber of Commerce helping to get companies on board with corporate citizenship back in the earlier days. And then got recruited to Minnesota.
I was like sure I’ll be in Minnesota two years, three years and I’ll move back to the East Coast, or who knows Jamaica. But I fell in love with the town, I fell in love with the people. And my role then was to lead global community relations on 5, 6 continents literally. And so whether it’s providing food in the Horn of Africa, or whether it’s building schools in China. I have the opportunity to work on these global programs. And yet I was still missing home.
I would go home every day, fire up the grill and neighbors would come over, my corporate colleagues will back off their suits and my living room and come hang out in the backyard, and we’ll build vibe. So what Marnita was talking about us coming together. That is certainly what Pimento was founded on, the community coming together, breaking bread together and solving complex social issues.
So that’s fantastic and such a success story. Tomme I’m going to– every time I’m in your restaurant I see the world in your restaurant, it’s one of the reasons I love going there in addition to the jerk sauce, which I’m kind of addicted to in a way.
But so Marnita, I want to go to you because your model, it is the preconceived notion crusher. You take people apart and kind of deconstruct what they’ve maybe learned. Can you talk about maybe how you do that. And in my opinion there’s some really root secret sauce there, to helping people understand their background so they can move forward. Can you talk about maybe preconceived notions just a little bit.
People always say, Oh my God, it seems so organic, you know we call it orchestrated chaos. And what we mean by that, is when you come in you– when you first are there you’re like, what is happening. But there’s a lot of secret sauce involved. And I think the biggest secret sauce is the word intention that comes first in it, intentional social interaction.
So it’s not just happening, like social interaction that is unintentional right, where I might be just seen with somebody and having a good conversation. It’s that intent behind it. And so when we– it has five foundations in 21 touch points, we literally deconstruct it like, why it always works the way it works?
And so the first foundation of it is research and reflection. And so like it’s why do you want to bring people together in the first place? When we started, I was consulting for non-profits and for foundations. And they kept saying two things, I can’t get teenagers in the room, and I can’t get people of color in the room.
And I would go out and I said, that was the problem I was solving for right. You want people– nonprofits and funders want more authentic relations with people of color IBPOC, indigenous Black and other people of color. And they want it with people under the age of 24.
And so I said well what would make those people come to a room? So I centered it on a feast appropriate from vegan to carnivore, and then had the best food possible right. So Tomme you and I have the food thing in common right. And the first 14,000 people, I made those meals myself. But– and they came like, sometimes in groups of 30, 40, 50 to into our living room right.
I remember people saying like you have homeless people who you are allowing in your home. What if they won’t leave, and we’re like you’ve never talked to somebody who’s unhoused have you?
This idea of preconceived notions, and I was sitting in a meeting with target senior brand people when I was doing consulting work. And they said something that stood out to me to this day. They said the average person who walked into a Target store was there to spend $9, and how they move them through the space, they didn’t have to teach them, they didn’t have to tell them. On average every person how they displayed the merchandise, how they move them through that environment, on average they spent 10 times what they plan to spend.
So if they walked in to spend $9 they spent $90, if they walked in to spend $15 they spent $150. And I had been sitting as a Black Woman in diversity training for years. And what I kept seeing is, kind of white guys would come in. And they’d say like, I’m not a racist, like they come in defensive.
And so I wondered hearing that target– and by the way, the granddaddy of experience engineering is a little company called Disney. They put little pots of things like vanilla behind the trees, to make well, your kids have melted down and you’ve spent 10 times what you plan to spend at Disneyland, you’re still everybody sticky and you’re all like this. But you’re still there because you feel your brain is being told relax, you’re having fun.
Well, we took that same model, we took that same idea. And instead of having people come into a room to talk about those people. We had people talk about their own experiences. So if we were talking about immigration, we wouldn’t say what should our immigration policy be? We would say, imagine through no fault of your own, you were living in incredible violence. What would you do to help your family get out of that violence?
[ By putting more than 50% immigrant or IBPOC in the room, often it was the first time that white people in the room– it was the first time they’d ever been in a room where they– unless they were like went to vacation in Jamaica. But this might be the first time in the United States, where they were not in the majority in the room. And they weren’t talking about the fate of those people.
People who walk into Target Stores, the thing that’s exciting about it is they’re happy, they go back to that store again. Even though extracted 10 times the wealth that– normally you’d be mad at that like, you’re extracting– but we go back. And I wondered, that’s what we need we need something that you want to go back to. And we were the first nonprofit in the world to take retail technology and use it to make people not part with their money, but with the idea.
And by the way it worked because hey, as a Black woman I grew up in a white supremacist country. I was so excited to hear Tomme– some of Tomme’s background and like where everybody seeing the police, I didn’t you know until Obama I never saw somebody who looked like me run the country or something.
And so most people if you ask him would say, I’m not a racist. And they’d be upset not only– and what is it inside a part of the brain where all they could think about is defending themselves. Whereas we’re not saying you’re a racist or not. In fact, we’re not even talking about bias, we’re talking about, how do we improve health care or education? And then we’re making you only talk about it from your own limited view, not what those people want.
And we figured if Target could get away with it and Disney could get away with it. Extracting wealth when most of us think of ourselves as being good stewards of our resources, and most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as racist. Well, having an easier way to have those conversations and suddenly say like, I never thought of it that way before, I’ve never heard this lens. Now my brain isn’t–
And I was discovering that I was always in rooms as a Black senior leader. I’d be the only Woman in the room the only Black person in a room. And then they’d want to hear my story of trauma. And suddenly I’m crying right. I’m telling them what’s happened to me as a Black Woman in the United States.
And the white men around me aren’t looking at me thinking Oh, we want Marnita to be the president of our new division. Like even though I’m qualified. They’re thinking like, who is this woman who’s melting down in front of me. So it quieted everybody’s brains down and let us get to the relationship piece.
I think often so much, one of the starts to I think of healing and reconciliation in some cases is each one of us– Well, I think dealing with our past. And just knowing how we perceive things, and then to move forward.
And so Tomme I’d like to kind of rip off of that, maybe you can tell us a little bit about I mean being an immigrant to the United States obviously there’s going to be some experiences there that you felt, but I kind of want to take you the thing that amazed me the most in this past year is, I mean COVID hit in before I knew it you had set up Pimento’s relief services in which to help people.
So how and– where I’m going with the deconstruction of maybe a Marnita is that people may have some preconceived notions, that immigrants come to the US, and Oh they take jobs or they’re on and services. You came to the US, you just you had a job you created your own business. And before I knew it you dealt with COVID quicker than anyone else I knew. Can you talk about that?
Well, I think the issue of immigrants in America is a complex one. Let’s be honest America has never traditionally been welcoming to immigrants except when the natives welcomed the first Europeans, who were then embraced with smallpox. And then right, and then way to think about it, when America was building and they started bringing in more Europeans those same Europeans were rejected.
The government might have had welcoming policies, but whether it’s the Jews, the Catholics the Irish, the Russians, the Polish, they weren’t necessarily welcomed in America. And one of the challenges as Yes, we understand that immigrants of those days they would get a job when they land, they would get property when they land, they would get the right to vote when they land and they’ll get citizenship and the opportunity to vote, which was not available to the Margarita and black they’re Black equivalents in that country at the time.
And so immigration in itself in America has always been a unique one. But I think what is happening now is, people are still having that same mindset. Well, my grandparents got that when they got here. And so they’re trying to blame that on immigrants, immigrants aren’t getting that today.
And the immigrant issue that we need to recognize is that even if there is an organization in the corner to help an immigrant, it’s because that one out of 100 is there for that immigrant community, but you still have 99 of those organizations that aren’t there for immigrants. And banking included, let’s be honest.
And so one of the things with immigrants nowadays we have to recognize that, the immigrants are up to date has been the same as the immigrants in the past. They’re job creators, think of Tesla. The vaccines were created by immigrants. The Silicon Valley is run by immigrants. And so immigrants of today are certainly job creators, and we need to upset that notion that immigrants are there to take, when immigrants are quite honestly the fastest growing population of job creators in America’s history since America was a country.
One has to recognize that in order for us to reach our full economic ability and full economic capacity, we need all of society performing, all of our society participating. And if we keep blocking out intentionally one segment of our population, then we will never reach full economic abilities, and capabilities, and possibilities. And this is not just a US issue, if you think of even Europe, they have a migrant issue that they have to contend with.
The irony of irony is the United Kingdom deporting people back to Jamaica, when Jamaica literally built England.
When we’re not talking about in the 1600s, we’re talking after World War 2, the same Jamaicans moved to England to help them rebuild. And those are the same Jamaicans England is trying to deport today.
And so the irony of how we treat immigration, which is of course nothing but a social construct a geographical social construct. Because we talk about Mexico and the border, and Mexicans come across the border. We all know that the border across Mexico. But going back to what you were talking about this whole immigration issue is a global issue, and as the powers that be who have to step up and recognize that they have also contributed to mass migration.
Whether it’s Syria, whether it’s Yemen, whether it’s North Africa, whether it’s Jamaica. you know what I’m saying. The powers that be have to recognize the influence that they’ve had, in having these people migrate. And it also is even happening in Asia. And we have to contend with as you talk about the truth of the matter.
As it relates to Pimento, one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve build to be that safe space, where everybody can come together, break bread, don’t worry, eat happy type of vibe. And so with COVID, when COVID happened, we had to pivot right away to ensure that, one we can keep our people employed, and to keep our community fed. Because one of the things that we’ve learned is millennials can’t cook to save their lives.
And so no matter what we are to be there to provide food for them. And so then after George Floyd’s murder was when we created Pimento Relief Services. For the record Minneapolis is one of the largest food producing capitals of the world. And yet we live in a food desert right now. Were just a couple of supermarkets being closed or burnt down meant that 80% of our citizens had no place to find food and supplies within the city of Minneapolis, fact.
And so Pimento Relief Services was that answer to where we knew that we had relations with everybody, and our community was saying we’re hungry. And so it brought together 150 of the top influencers within the city, to try to understand how we’re going to solve this. And we found out that one of the things that we needed to do was provide the resources for those leaders who are already on the front lines of liberation.
So instead of us trying to be on under Marnita’s Table, we recognize the work that Marnita is doing and help remove those barriers that Marnita would normally have to encounter, that her white counterpart wouldn’t.
And that’s what we’re here for, to provide those resources with those on the frontlines of liberation, we talk about liberation, we’re talking about economic liberation, how do we create more Black banks and Black businesses? we talk about capital liberation, how do we first of all capital literacy, you have the angel investors, the impact investors, the venture capitalists, and the whole list of golf course investors who have never really opened up the doors to the Black community.
So we’re– how do you create that roundtable with capital investment as a conversation? And to hope to create that repository where Marnitas or whomever is like, you know I can find the other investor, we can provide them that connection with that impact investor. So that’s our capital liberation.
Then under our social liberation is that truth and reconciliation effort. When are we going to truly talk about who we are as a people. If we continually believe that Oh, we need to help those poor Africans because they never had anything. And you’re already starting at the wrong place because we need to recognize that African history started long before slavery, started long before Christopher Columbus.
And so that truth and reconciliation about our social liberation, and also the healing part of it. Because what I’m learning as a foreigner in America is that African-Americans need to do a lot of healing from the trauma they have and continuously till today experience. So we’re focused on the healing.
And then the last leg of our effort is political liberation. So how do we get people to show up to the polls to vote, how their grandmothers to write letters in the basement, that’s the grassroots level, but how do we even get people to run for office, show up to run for office.
And then most importantly, how do we even figure out how to fund those candidates and those who are supporting the special interest group known as Black people. And that’s where we’re creating our own political action committee that we’re launching this month, to be able to support those candidates who are on the front lines.
With the time that we have remaining, I want to talk a little bit about equality, and you guys have been touching on it. But it’s one thing that I quite honestly I’ve never been able to understand. When I think of equality and you are just describing it.
The– like if you just take a particular country if we took the United States for example, if you took all the immigrants and they had access to credit, and jobs, and capital to build businesses. It builds a better economy, it builds a better society, it breaks down all those barriers to people being all that they can be. To the next PhDs, and scientists that put us on the moon.
I mean I don’t see the– I don’t understand maybe why equality isn’t– it’s such an abundant exponential factor. And so Tomme comment on that one.
My commentary first of all was thought by economists teach us that, it’s about allocating scarce resources and using scarce resources to produce goods and services. So that notion of scarcity is always in the back of one’s heads when they think of opportunities and abilities.
And so what we need to do is recognize that no it’s not about scarcity, because there’s enough money in the world to ensure nobody is poor on the planet, there’s enough calories on the planet to ensure nobody goes to bed hungry tonight, there’s enough land to ensure that nobody is homeless tonight. So it’s not a matter of scarcity it’s a matter of greed.
And we need to call it what it is recognize what it is. I recognize that again, we have a responsibility to ensure that we have the most high-performing global economy ever because with the flattening of the world. Thanks to technology, we can certainly ensure that we’re bringing the next generation, and bringing all peoples up together.
And so I say equity, I would say, we will get to equity one as Bob Marley and King Haile Selassie Emperor first says, when we eliminate and discredit the philosophy which holds was one group superior and another inferior.
The audience today are bankers who are grounded in values. And so in some ways you’re speaking to a really open audience to what you’re saying. But banking around the world hasn’t been– they’ve been in a lot of cases maybe part of the problem and not part of the solution, in terms of equity.
And any advice or thoughts to the bankers on this call around the world who really are in your corner, but may need some help or some encouragement to really go the next level and the next step for the values based bankers around the world that are listening to us today, your thoughts what can they do? Marnita do you want to start?
The one thing I have to say is pay attention to the standards you’re using. Because I think sometimes– there’s been study after study about this whether it’s not bankers but in the medical profession, doctors– white doctors actually believe that Black and brown people are more impervious to pain than white people. And will refuse to give us pain meds.
There are analogs in I think banking to that, how do you know somebody is– I would say, you want to have somebody who’s good with money? A Black mother on minimum wage, who makes her money last through the month is probably somebody you want to invest in.
So like what is it you know– I saw so many times people investing it was what Tomme said earlier. I’m investing in somebody because they remind me of me. Like, I remember back in the day there were some organizations that were starting right when we did, and they were started by young interesting white men. And they were getting million grants. And I couldn’t I was doing the work and couldn’t get more than $1,000 or $2,000.
And so I would say pay attention to potential. Understand that money is still a relationship business. And it may be you have to go out of your way a little to learn to feel and to hear what those stories are because almost guaranteed the person who’s in their kitchen with one walk, is ready to be a major restaurant chain, with the hottest new dish or whatever.
Very good. Well, thank you. And Tommy, how about you the values-based bankers on the line. thoughts for them.
as for the values-based bankers, I would say that what you’re doing is a nice to do. This is a business imperative right. We saw that over the past year in America for example, everybody was looking for products that either made by Black people or for the Black economy and all that. It will only become more so in the future whereby, consumers are expecting higher level of responsibility from the power brokers as they are.
And so if you’re CEO, David holding you accountable, as well as the other CEOs haven’t figured out how to help move the needle on equity in the next 5, 10, 20, 25 years. Consumers will be showing up and voting with their dollars, and ensuring that you are left out.
So this is not a nice to do, it is that need to and any senior leadership team who is not leading on this issue are simply doing a disservice to their stakeholders. As it relates to what can be done. We need everyone to see themselves as an instrument of liberation.
The same way all the bankers invented this notion of credits, and then decided these people weren’t going to get credit, and then deny people loans because they don’t have what we didn’t give them known as credits, write a full circle right there. The bankers themselves have the opportunity to work doubly hard harder than your predecessors who kept people out.
Your responsibility now is to work even harder to let more people in. Because when we all do well, we all do well. At the end of the day, if we’re not able to participate fully, then you’re missing out on the opportunity and you’re failing to maximize profit for your shareholders.
And this is what I heard in the early days of the Table. I heard– I was often up for things where it was innovation. And then I would go for it, and they’d say, well, you’re not– you haven’t been around that long, you’re not tested. And it was like maybe you don’t– may I present the word innovation to you like, innovation does not mean best practice. like, in an innovation often leads to a best practice.
So that’s the other thing is recognizing when you are– what part of what are you investing in? Are you investing in the seedling? Are you investing in growing a healthy plant? Are you investing in an entire ecosystem? There’s also that to look at as well. And to maybe put some money into ideas that sound good.
There’s the challenge right there for values-based bankers. I mean it’s the paying attention, it is the leaning and more, that standing back is not an option anymore. We have to engage and we got to commit fully and make it happen.
So Marnita and Tomme, thank you so much for your time today. You’ve been more than generous, your wisdom and knowledge that you provided us, it’s fantastic. Thank you so much. We wish you all the best, and I know for me anyways my engagement with the both of you this is a continuation of what will be and what can be.
And so I look forward to working with you in the future and in doing great things, and helping you however I can. And so thank you very much Marnita, Thanks Tomme.
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