In an ideal world, reports on diversity and inclusion wouldn’t be necessary. We created this report because we don’t live in an ideal world, and we want to share our successes and failures, as well as our concrete plans and hopes for the future.
Diversity and inclusion remain Ashby & Graff’s number-one priority. As matchmakers of people and homes, our efforts extend beyond the workplace and into the neighborhoods we serve. The stain of segregation and racism in housing casts a dark shadow that continues to subject people of color—Black Americans in particular—to starkly different life experiences than white Americans.
So while Ashby & Graff is especially focused on areas where we can have the greatest impact, such as our diversity, we do not shy away from the larger issues that make this work necessary. Until we fully address and tackle the larger legacy of racism in housing and other areas of public policy, it will be difficult to make significant progress on issues such as workplace diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
That’s why we’re committed to using our platform to shed more light on the unjust machinations of systems of racism. This means making the case for legislative and regulatory fixes that could create positive change.
After generations of harm caused by the real estate industry, we won’t be satisfied by being merely “not racist.” Decades of willful wrongdoing demands equal or greater energy to right these wrongs and actively working to snuff out racism at all levels.
I am personally committed to ensuring that Ashby & Graff is not part of the problem by actively working to be part of the solution. I hope you will join us on the right side of history.
This report is dedicated to the life and spirit of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, who committed himself to peaceful resistance of injustice everywhere and whose legacy continues to inspire people to go forth and get into “good trouble”.
His truth is marching on.
February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020
“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something—to do something.”
– John Lewis
The History of Housing Discrimination and Segregation in the United States
Historically, the real estate industry in the United States carried out housing policies and laws at local, state, and federal levels that prohibited access to home ownership for Black Americans and enforced legal and de facto segregation (Rothstein, 2017; Wilkerson, 2010). As Ashby & Graff note in the blog post, Black Lives Matter, following the long history of slavery, Jim Crow laws “sought to remove any political and economic clout of newly freed Black Americans and subsequently led to the institution of racist housing policies like redlining, steering, and blockbusting (NPR, 2018, 2019; Rothstein, 2017). And “the large gap between white and Black homeownership has remained almost unchanged since the enactment of the Fair Housing Act” in 1968 (Ashby & Graff® Real Estate, 2020).
Fair and equitable home ownership and nondiscriminatory housing access has been denied to many over the course of U.S. history, including women, immigrants, and those who identify as LGBTQIA. For example, the results of a recent research by Hua Sun and Lei Gao found that “compared with otherwise similar different-sex applicants, same-sex applicants are 73.12% more likely to be denied, and they tend to be charged up to 0.2% higher fees/interest. Furthermore, neighborhoods’ higher same-sex population density adversely affects both same-sex and different-sex borrowers’ lending experiences” (2019). And the results of a 2018 survey by Freddie Mac suggests that those who identify as LGBT are less likely to own a home (49% compared to the national rate of 64%) and 46% of renters who identify as LGBT fear housing discrimination.
Responsible Corporate Citizenship
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate acts as responsible corporate citizens through equitable and inclusive corporate policies and practices that adhere to state and federal laws related to fairness and protection from employment and housing discrimination.
According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California law protects individuals from employment discrimination based on race, color, ancestry and national origin, religion, age, disability, sex and gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, medical conditions, genetic information, marital status, and military or veteran status. State laws that bar discrimination apply to all business practices, including advertisements, applications, hiring, working conditions (including compensation), and training. Most employers are also prohibited from inquiring about applicants’ criminal records before making job offers (DFEH, 2020).
California law also protects individuals from discrimination and harassment in housing based on the above categories and familial status, source of income, citizenship, primary language, and immigration status. This refers to selling, rent or leasing, misrepresentation of housing availability, provision of inferior terms, and any discriminatory policies, practices, terms or conditions that result in unequal access to housing or housing related services (DFEH, 2019). In addition, housing providers are not permitted to have policies that prohibit individuals with criminal records from renting or living in housing units (DFEH, 2020).
A genuine commitment to inclusion, equity, and justice for all people requires more of companies than simply following the letter of the law. Ashby & Graff® Real Estate acts as responsible corporate citizens through company policies and practices and ongoing actions, advocacy, and communications in our wider industry and community at large.
We recognize that this commitment also requires kaizen: active learning and continuous improvement that results in change over time. As John Graff explains of combating racism, “‘This is something that’s going to be a lifetime of changes and correcting of behaviors. For so long, we thought being not racist was good enough. Now you have to be actively anti-racist’” (quoted in Christoffer & Wood, 2020). Since our founding, Ashby & Graff® Real Estate has focused on ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace. We continue to learn new things about the depths of racism and its continuing legacy of negative consequences; as well as other forms of injustice and exclusion. In response, we are actively learning how to work toward more humane, fair, and just outcomes.
percent of agents who agree with the statement, "I feel like I belong at Ashby & Graff."
percent of agents who identify as people of color and agree with the statement, "I feel like I belong at Ashby & Graff."
percent of agents who report agreeing with the statement, “I feel that my compensation is fair, relative to similar roles at Ashby & Graff.
Our Commitment to
Diversity & Inclusion
From 2018 to 2020, Ashby & Graff® Real Estate has grown over 350% and expanded into new parts of California while strengthening our existing bases of operation. Central to our success is a commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive work environment and advocating for greater equity and justice both within our industry and the larger community.
This demonstrated commitment led to CEO John Graff being named as one of fifteen advocates on the INvolve and Yahoo Finance 2019 EMpower Advocates List*. INvolve describes selected advocates as “senior leaders who are not people of color but dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive business environment for ethnic minority employees” (2020). Of his placement on the Advocates List, John Graff spoke of the honor of being included and noted that it reflects the entire company’s commitment to investing in a diverse and inclusive community of successful sales agents and clients. Graff said, “‘Diversity is more than a competitive advantage. For Ashby & Graff, it is a foundation of our business culture. That honors such as this exist means we still have hard work ahead of us to achieve true levels of diversity and inclusion in the workplace’” (quoted in Newswire, 2019).
*A panel of judges select the advocates (Yahoo Finance, 2019). According to Newswire, 2019 selections were made by judges representing the following entities: “Barclays, Unilever, McKinsey & Company, Pinnacle Group, The Financial Times, Linda Yueh, economist, broadcaster and author of The Great Economists, and Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO, INvolve.” Candidates were “scored on the seniority and influence of their role, their impact on ethnic minority inclusion inside and outside the workplace and their business achievements” (2019).
Diversity at Ashby & Graff
- African-American/Black 16% 16%
- American Indian/Alaska Native 2% 2%
- East Asian 7% 7%
- Hispanic/Latino 21% 21%
- Middle Eastern 5% 5%
- Pacific Islander 2% 2%
- South & Southeast Asian 2% 2%
- White 45% 45%
- Other 3% 3%
- Refuse to Answer 5% 5%
According to national data from the United States Census Bureau, 74.6% of Real estate brokers & sales agents are white (Non-Hispanic), making that the most common race or ethnicity in the occupation. Representing 8.79% of Real estate brokers & sales agents, white (Hispanic) is the second most common race or ethnicity in this occupation.
percent of Ashby & Graff agents who identify as belonging to the LGBTQIA community.
percent of Ashby & Graff advisory board members who identity as people of color.
percent of Ashby & Graff agents who identify as women.
Ashby & Graff: Who We Are and What We Do
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate is a virtual real estate brokerage serving the entire state of California. We offer services and expertise in buying, selling, and renting; and we have access to experts in every related field from lending to escrow and title services to relocation. We also do business as other brands including a referral-only brokerage, a real estate education provider, a property management company, and a forthcoming mortgage brokerage.
We challenge the traditional real estate model in several innovative ways that enable us to offer cost-effective, high quality, and ethical service to everyone with whom we do business. We are defined by our mission to act with integrity and according to our core values. This mission supports the success and well being of our clients, employees, and the broader communities we love. And we practice the ethics we espouse by prioritizing the needs of our clients and sales agents in concrete ways.
For our clients, we believe in equal and undifferentiated service, regardless of budget or goal. From the company’s founding to current rapid growth we have remained steadfast in this commitment. To that end, we connect with our clients on a human level. We provide fast and efficient service that makes the process of finding and securing a home as easy as possible. And we communicate credible information in ways that are honest, transparent, and understandable.
For our sales agents, we prioritize financial security. We use a stable fee structure that provides reliable savings and cash flow regardless of market conditions. And since we operate virtually, we limit overhead costs for operations, thus securing our company’s long term sustainability and viability.
In all our endeavors at Ashby & Graff, we embrace the concept of kaizen, which can be roughly translated from Japanese to mean “good change.” Kaizen is a process-oriented approach to work that seeks “constant” or continuous improvement through small, incremental changes that become substantial over time (Imai, 2012, p. 2). It is based on the belief that nothing is status quo; everything can be improved.
Priorities, Actions, and Results
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate has identified several priorities or goals that support diversity, equity, and inclusion; and taken concrete steps to actualize those goals. The list below includes a description of actions, strategies, and results in each goal area. It also includes inquiry and exploration of plans for addressing areas in need of improvement and areas where more data is needed, most of which will be implemented by Q4 2021 at the latest.
1. Use varied research methods and both quantitative and qualitative data to review policies and procedures, make evidence-based decisions, and track results of diversity and inclusion efforts in all goal areas.
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate currently conducts survey research to solicit sales agents’ perceptions of diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the work environment. The purpose is to learn the effects of our efforts to serve all communities as well as areas in need of improvement; improve our understanding of employees; and learn how to create as welcoming an environment as possible. We plan to continue to develop our survey instruments in response to current and evolving needs for information and use the results to adjust our policies and practices as needed.
We regularly review and adjust our policies and procedures to stay nimble and responsive to evolving matters of equity and inclusion. For example, our leadership team recently decided to no longer charge agents $15 for a paper check. This was originally intended as a way to incentivize the use of electronic transfer of funds which is safer and more environmentally friendly; however because of the unequal availability of banking resources in some communities of color, we decided this policy could be negatively impacting our employees who live in areas underserved by affordable banking opportunities.
We plan to collect demographic data inclusive of all categories protected by law as well as by income categories. We consider this especially important during the 2020 COVID-19 and ensuing economic crisis. We will use this information to track hiring, retention, and attrition rates, as well as information about the clients and communities we serve. Data will also be used to continue to push our marketing efforts to be as diverse and representative of our communities as possible.
2. Use diverse and inclusive representation in marketing and communications to ensure the employees who power and clients who benefit from Ashby & Graff® Real Estate reflect the communities we serve.
Diverse representation and positive, stereotype-defying images in marketing is an essential key to our success. Ever since our founding, we have mandated that any content produced and promoted by the company would always endeavor to reflect the diversity of California and the United States. (For demographic information, see results of the 2018 American Community Survey.) As CEO John Graff has explained, people “‘are especially mindful of the presence (or absence) of folks like themselves in corporate advertising material. . . . [and] it’s powerfully affirming to be able to see . . . someone like yourself reflected in the world around you’” (quoted in Benzinga, 2019). The goal, as described in INvolve’s profile of Graff, is for “everyone who encounters the Ashby & Graff brand [to] instantly know they are welcome and can count on being provided the same effective, honest, and ethical service afforded all clients. John, who is openly gay, says his own personal experiences with discrimination and feeling unrepresented motivated his decree’” for diverse and inclusive representation in marketing materials (2019).
People deserve to see themselves reflected accurately in society. And since the vast majority of our advertising is geared toward recruiting new agents, these efforts have undoubtedly succeeded in presenting countless potential hires with reflections of themselves in a sea of whitewashed or stereotype-enforcing marketing. As a result, Ashby & Graff® Real Estate has seen 1150% hiring growth over the past 36 months. Indeed, one agent with the firm, Sunita Muhamad shared that she was doing research on various brokerages to join stating, “and when I came across Ashby & Graff, I loved everything that you stand for. Right away it felt authentic and comfortable. In addition, I appreciated how dedicated you are in creating a diverse workplace environment for ethnic minorities.”
By the end of 2020, we plan to add more language diversity to our website and marketing material, with some text in languages other than English. We will also provide information about the availability of sales agents who speak languages other than English as well as those with specialized knowledge about housing that serves populations with diverse needs. In addition, we will provide more accessibility features on our website for people with diverse abilities and disabilities, such as audio in addition to written text. And we plan to post more information about access to A.D.A. compliant and/or Universal Design housing for people with disabilities as well as access to high quality and affordable housing for those with moderate to low income. We plan to also include information about public and supportive housing in California. Finally, we will regularly review our website and marketing material to ensure that it is representative of as many members of our communities as possible.
3. Reaffirm our reliance on blind recruitment processes that support intersectional hiring and remove the impacts that biases may otherwise have on our hiring practices.
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate employs a blind hiring process. A potential agent applies to our firm through an automated, online process and if their license is active per the Department of Real Estate, they are approved to join our company. We do not need to speak with or see the person to hire them. If the State of California determined that a person is qualified to practice real estate, we are confident in their ability to succeed and our ability to support their success through training and supervision. All actively licensed agents who want to commit themselves to our core values of providing effective, honest, and ethical service are welcome at Ashby & Graff® Real Estate.
This blind process has resulted in the hiring of a diverse group of agents in an industry that tends to be overwhelmingly white and male (Kim, Brenzel, & Bockmann, 2017; O’Regan, 2020). Through self-reporting in a July 2020 survey of approximately 45% of our brokers and sales associates, we have determined that our company’s sales staff is diverse, though there is room for improvement. Of our agents, approximately 45% identify as White; 21% as Hispanic/Latino*; 16% as African-American/Black; 6% as East Asian; 5% as Middle Eastern; 2% as American Indian/Alaska Native; 2% as Pacific Islander; and 2% as Southeast Asian. In terms of gender and sexual identities, our company is less diverse. In response to the question, “What is your gender identity?” 47% identified as a woman and 53% as a man, with zero identifying as nonbinary or agender. And in response to the question, “What is your sexual orientation?” 87% identified as heterosexual or straight, 8% as gay, 3% as asexual, 2% declined to answer, and zero identified as bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, or queer.
In addition to sales agents, our company’s leadership and staff are similarly reflective of our communities; and our advisory board is equally divided among males and females, with 75% people of color.
In terms of our employee’s perceptions, in the July 2020 survey, the majority reported confidence that Ashby & Graff® Real Estate hires agents from diverse backgrounds and the majority reported a feeling of belonging at the company.
All agents’ perception of Ashby & Graff’s diverse hiring practices.
And people of color (those who did not identify as white) were more likely to say they found our company to be diverse, compared to the group as a whole that responded at a lower rate.
People of color were more likely to perceive Ashby & Graff’s hiring practices as diverse.
The diversity of our agents and their reported perceptions of feelings of belonging demonstrate that efforts at diversity and inclusion do work; and companies benefit from employing a workforce that reflects the communities they serve.
4. Continue to employ policies and practices that support an equitable and inclusive work environment and solicit information from employees on how to support retention and avoid attrition.
In addition to tracking information on hiring, retention, and attrition by demographic category, we plan to distribute and analyze entrance and exit surveys to learn what factors influence attrition and what supports and interventions might assist with retention. We also plan to track how our rates compare to the real estate industry in California and the United States.
5. Continue to use standard compensation plans which are equally available as options to all employees and allow for parity in compensation within and across groups.
All of our brokers and sales associates are offered the same compensation plans to choose from when they first join. This removes the potential for bias. As a result, in the July 2020 survey, 89% of our brokers and sales associates reported agreeing with the statement, “I feel that my compensation is fair, relative to similar roles at Ashby & Graff Real Estate.” It should be noted that the remaining 11% responded “neither agree nor disagree” and 0% disagreed.
6. Provide education and training to our employees, colleagues, and the public; as well as opportunities to reward employees for efforts and achievements in these areas.
As the employing brokerage, it is our responsibility to ensure that our agents understand how people in our industry perpetuate(d) racist housing policies and how those policies of exclusion continue to impact contemporary life. For management and agent staff, we require mandatory implicit bias training; and in our annual agent compliance training, we include a module regarding the history and lasting effects of racist housing policies. We require that all agents watch documentaries about racist housing policies. This required viewing must be completed annually.
We will continue to provide free access to engaging educational materials for clients, industry colleagues, and the public in our online news magazine, A&G Lifestyles. (As examples, see Learn About Fair Housing videos and Black Lives Matter.)
The aim of producing educational content is to address the lack of common knowledge about these issues. At the same time, we will continue to advocate for schools, licensing authorities, and trade associations to provide quality education and training now and in the future.
In the long-term, we may develop additional tools to assess learning after our sales agents complete education and training; as well as tools to assess if and how they use the information in their professional life. In considering recent trends, we may also develop fair and equitable methods of rewarding staff for achievements related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as including related criteria in job performance reviews and compensation plans.
7. Actively participate in real estate association meetings and events to coordinate efforts within the industry; and collaborate with other organizations and groups to advocate for reform on local, state, and national levels.
CEO John Graff has served in leadership and management roles for presidential campaigns, members of Congress, and the Democratic National Committee; he has also served as a Policy Director for the Board of Education in the nation’s second largest school district. His combined experience in real estate and public policy makes him an effective advocate for diversity and inclusion in the real estate industry; and an effective mentor for sales agents in developing leadership capabilities. It is important to note that any person in leadership can employ similar strategies to support reform on local, state, and national levels.
Graff previously served on the board of the National Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors where he worked to promote minority homeownership, especially among the Black community which has the lowest rate of homeownership of any group in the United States (Falcon, 2020). At the national level, he serves as an unpaid policy advisor to national fair housing organizations; and on the Multi-Cultural Leadership Advisory Council, which convenes the leaders of the various multicultural real estate organizations in the United States including the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), the Asian Real Estate Association, and the Women’s Council of Realtors.
If we are to work toward true and lasting change, then we cannot just limit our efforts to the real estate industry or the workplace. Change is also made through our government. So it is imperative that we engage with elected leaders and legislators at all levels to advocate for policies that address the history of systemic inequities in housing; and support the fair and equal treatment of all. To that end, Graff recently attended the 2019 LGBT Housing Policy Summit hosted by the NAGLREP at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center in Washington, D.C. as well as a working breakfast hosted by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (Svoboda, 2019). The focus of the summit was The Equality Act, which would amend existing civil rights laws and provide nondiscrimination protections in areas such as employment, housing, and education to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics (Human Rights Campaign, 2020).
To advocate for reform in government, Ashby & Graff® Real Estate also submits comments and letters to regulatory bodies seeking public input on issues that affect our industry and workforce.
Ashby & Graff® Real Estate plans to develop mentorship programs that support agents in developing capabilities in leadership and advocacy; and offer incentives for association membership and event participation as well as taking on leadership roles and responsibilities.
8. Use our thought leadership platform to communicate and spread awareness about the need for reform as well as steps individuals can take to support these efforts.
At Ashby & Graff® Real Estate, we are committed to using our platform as a thought leader in the real estate industry. First and foremost, this means we communicate to acknowledge and respond to the pain of injustice and trauma. After the murder of George Floyd, we silenced our social media accounts to amplify the voices of organizations working on racial equality and published a statement in support of Black Lives Matter: “We all have the power to speak up in the face of wrong and injustice, and we are challenging businesses across America to stand in solidarity with minorities in our country who are fighting for survival. Our company is and always will be committed to action” (2020). Any company within or outside the real estate industry can use social media and other platforms to publicly acknowledge and embrace the difficulty of the current moment; and locate themselves within it.
Second, this means speaking out and speaking clearly in support of real diversity, equitable treatment, and inclusive representation. Brokers can engage constructively in the conversation by posting credible and verifiable facts about the legacy of discrimination in our field as well as strategies for addressing it (Christoffer & Wood, 2020). As Graff has said, “‘Speak out on this . . . We can’t leave it to the few Black people who are in the real estate industry to make statements. We have to take that burden off of them and talk to fellow white people about this issue. Especially . . . given the real estate industry’s ties to upholding racist housing policies and the lingering effects of those housing policies, it’s really, really important that leaders in this industry not just put out statements, but talk about concrete steps that they’re going to take to change the tone and direction of this conversation’” (quoted in Falcon, 2020).
One of the most effective ways to inspire positive action is by discussing these issues directly within our professional communities. This includes calling out instances of inequity and exclusion and standing up for our employees, clients, and colleagues. For example, when realtor associations and groups organize panels with majority white and male participants, it is important to explain why this is unacceptable and advocate for more diversity. (As a case in point, a 2020 panel in Southern California had 21 speakers, 15 of which were male and all of which were white.) When we witness something wrong, we must call it out.
This is why in January of 2019, Ashby & Graff pulled the plug on our Facebook advertising budget after months of missteps in Facebook’s handling of bigotry, anti-semitism, lack of privacy protections, and other matters. We are proud to be an early supporter of the #StopHateForProfit Campaign which began in the summer of 2020 to pull together a conglomerate of advertisers willing to withdraw advertising until Facebook adequately addresses concerns raised by civil rights organizations (The New York Times, 2020). Recently, we took the added step of actually deleting our presence from Facebook entirely. As Graff explained at the time, “‘Do we get value from having the page and does that value mitigate the dangerous seeds of discord being sown by Facebook? The answer to both is ‘no’. . . . And even if there were enormous value to us, how could we possibly value our business more than the cohesion of our United States?’” (quoted in Joseph, 2020). Facebook is not a platform we are comfortable participating in given their unwillingness to seriously mitigate the problem of hate speech on their site. As Graff has expressed, this is not a political position but an accordance with basic human values: “‘I don’t think that demanding the truth about the holocaust is political. . . . I don’t think that demanding Black lives be treated with the same respect as white lives is political. I don’t think that insisting that publishers treat facts as facts is political. These are just things that we hope to be self-evident. I don’t think it’s taking a political stand, I think it’s just standing up for what should be basic human values’” (Falcon, 2020). Just as important as direct action is the need to communicate the reasons for taking that action.
In addition to identifying and actively resisting what is wrong, it is equally important to communicate the value of diversity and inclusion in the quest for greater recognition of civil and human rights. As John Graff explained during Pride Month in 2019, “‘At Ashby & Graff, we embrace and value our differences because it is diversity of thought that strengthens us. Diversity and inclusion aren’t just a corporate policy, they are the fibers that weave the durable fabric of our organization. We are proud to celebrate diversity and the contributions of the LGBTQ community during Pride Month and throughout the entire year’” (Velt, 2019). That year, Ashby & Graff produced and promoted a video called Holding Hands, Holding Dreams to highlight the importance of home ownership in the LGBTQ community. As Graff explained, “The LGBTQ community has taken incredible strides toward true equality but there is still progress to be made. . . . We celebrate the gains but recommit to fighting for a better and more equal future on behalf of our employees, clients and their families” (Velt, 2019).
9. Support reform through investments and charitable giving to organizations and businesses that represent and support diversity and inclusion.
We recently pledged to make more strategic investments in Black-owned businesses. As a result of that decision/action, our investments now include business with founders that are 52% people of color; 39% Black; 23% women; and 8% LGBTQIA. As we make new outside investments we will make sure to continue the progress already made with a particular focus on increasing our investments in women-owned businesses to bring that allocation closer to 50%.
Total may exceed 100% due to respondents’ ability to self-identify within more than one group.
We are also shifting some of our charitable giving to organizations working on racial justice issues, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Ida B. Wells Society, among others.
10. Analyze vendor relationships to increase diverse and inclusive representation, starting with increasing Black representation to a minimum of 15%.
We are also analyzing our vendor relationships to identify how to increase diverse and inclusive representation. For example, we currently partner with Black-owned businesses in the areas of human resources and public relations; we will continue to diversify our vendor relationships.
At Ashby & Graff® Real Estate, we embrace the concept of kaizen, or “good change,” through small, incremental actions with results that become substantial over time. Nothing is status quo; everything can be improved. And in our diversity and inclusion efforts, we have room to do better and more.
We produced this report to examine what we can do to make our workplace and the real estate industry at-large more culturally cognizant and welcoming to all. One of the most important actions we can take is to engage in conversation with our colleagues to encourage more thoughtful consideration of these sensitive subjects. This work extends beyond the boundaries of our industry. We hope this report is a step in the right direction.
Open Doors and Hearts
by K.Y. Robinson
America swallows keys
And wonders why
We feel uninvited.
Turns the promised land
Into a swamp when we slip
Inside a dream not meant for us.
How many more mountains
Must we tell until we overcome them?
How long will our bloated prayers
Go unanswered before they explode?
We have the same red river
Flowing through our veins.
Felt our hearts beat like a drum
And shatter like glass.
Houses built on bigotry
Can no longer stand.
Smash every window.
Let love flood in.
Lift the foundation.
Dig up the roots so history
Doesn’t bloom again.
We want a seat at the table
And live in a world with
Open doors and hearts.
This is our land too.
K.Y. Robinson is a writer from Houston, Texas. She received a BA in Journalism and MA in History from Texas Southern University. With unapologetic candor and vivid imagery, she writes poems about desire, loss, and healing. She draws inspiration from being a woman of color, trauma and mental illness survivor, and hopelessly hopeful romantic. www.kyrobinson.net
We owe a debt of gratitude to these experts who provided significant contributions to this report by sharing their knowledge, life-experience and passion. Thank you.
Dr. Catherine DeLazzero, PhD
Dr. Natalie Sappleton, PhD
Ceylan Sahin Eker
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