My name is Russell Johnston and I am the Human Resources Director at the Omaha Community Foundation. I am also a father to two beautiful children, my daughter who is Black and son who is Guatemalan.
The last few weeks have been challenging for the staff as we are facing current events with a new lens.
Two years ago the Foundation began a journey with the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI). The work with CEI is designed to build a competency around language, systems, and processes that must be addressed to sustain equitable efforts. It has been some of the most meaningful work of my entire career, raising my consciousness to see things that were present all along—I just wasn’t paying attention.
Sometimes all I feel is fear for my children. I don’t want them to fear facing the same fate as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or James Scurlock. Equity education has made it possible for me to better prepare my children for the world they are living in, not the experience my white privilege provides them.
I’m grateful to be employed by an organization that centers equity as an ongoing priority. I think of the minds that have changed, the conversations that are happening, the space that has been held, and the collective desire to keep learning, listening, and supporting people of color.
As a white man the work is mine to do—because I love and care about my coworkers, and most importantly because I love and care about the future of my children. I don’t expect people of color to educate me—although I do listen carefully when they generously provide guidance. It also means sitting with discomfort, one of our Six Agreements for this work.
I want better, which means I have to be better.