My resolution for 2022 is nothing short of impossible: Make justice normal. But I’m committing myself to it anyway because the possibility of a more just future for you, me, my son, and the generations to come is worth summoning the will needed for the journey.
How did I come to dream this impossible dream? Well, it’s my answer to the question I’ve been asking guests of the podcast I launched with some friends last year: What do we need to do to be a good ancestor at this moment?
Given the tagline for the podcast, “Moving capital toward justice,” their answers may surprise you. Love more. Be kind. Shift power. Center women and indigenous thinking.
To all of these things, I say yes. Not only for individuals, though that’s a good place to start, but also for businesses, governments, and everything in between. As leaders, we must ask ourselves, “What is our legacy? What will the people of tomorrow think of our actions yesterday and today?”
LOVE. KINDNESS. JUSTICE?
As I thought more about the throughline from love to kindness to intersectionality and how that all relates to power, one level up from all of this for me at a meta-level was justice. Indeed, if capital is a proxy for structural power, the ways we steward capital reflect the biases of the historical context from which our current systems derive.
Between the pandemic, which nearly brought the global economy to a halt and caused incalculable human tragedy, democratic crises around the world, unfettered police brutality that ushered in a worldwide racial reckoning, systems failures and fragility have been revealed to more people than ever before, particularly those who had the privilege to be able to look away. Perhaps, we can all finally see how unjust our structures and systems are and have always been.
All of this has led me to ask, how can we break the chain between our inherently unjust reality and the next normal we are building post-pandemic—not to mention Web 3.0 and the metaverse? How can we make justice normal in our world and beyond? Visionary business leaders will do well to embrace this question and answer it for themselves—and their organizations—because the children of our world, who will inherit everything, are watching us and will hold us accountable.
My hope is that the unveiling of these last few years has created an unprecedented opportunity to harness the greatest connectedness we’ve ever had, supported by the microcomputers in our pockets that give us access to information and each other like never before. We also have a choice to do something we’ve never done before: Make justice normal.
So, where to begin?
RETHINK, REDRESS, LIBERATE
We begin by rethinking our current ways of work. We begin by redressing harm. We think about liberation as a goal for all people, the planet, our spirits, and our imaginations.
What are we rethinking? Capital distribution. Capital is neutral, like any other tool. It’s what you do with the tool that condemns or elevates it.
We are also rethinking finance. The management and distribution of money are about choices. What are the norms and models underpinning our financial system? Who was the financial system meant to serve, and does the way it works represent our values?
If the norms and models we have don’t reflect our values, we need new ones that incorporate all externalities in service of greater, more positive outcomes for all stakeholders. We need to pay close attention to how these new norms and models affect the most historically excluded among us, and we need to do it with an intersectional lens, considering the many identities people have.
Lastly, we are rethinking power. Who has control, authority, and influence? How do we more equitably distribute these things?
What requires redress? What do we need to make amends for? Exploitation. The exploitation of black and indigenous bodies. Women’s bodies of every ethnicity. The carceral system. The treatment of immigrants and refugees. The existence of modern slavery. We need to redress the historic and contemporary removal of indigenous people as well as gentrification and displacement. We need to redress extraction and insist on regeneration in our land and natural capital use.
We also need to redress the extractive practices that have harmed communities of color in the U.S. and historically excluded peoples around the world. We need to redress injustice everywhere.
What of liberation? We need liberation both literally and figuratively. We need to liberate our planet. Our planet is at a tipping point related to climate. Once certain thresholds have been crossed, all the rest may be moot.
We need to liberate our spirits. Right now is not about incremental change; it is about revolution. We need public and political will, collective resolve, and internal fortitude to sustain in this fight. The road to liberation will be long, but it’s the only way we have.
Finally, we need to liberate the narrative from the shackles of other people’s limitations. From thinking change is impossible to understanding that not only is it possible but inevitable. We need to change the narrative we tell ourselves about what we’re capable of and the reality we can design and deliver for ourselves.
ON BEING A GOOD ANCESTOR
For me, to be a good ancestor at this moment means working to make justice normal. Every industry, organization, elected official, CEO, mid-level manager, and entry-level employee has a role to play as we dream the impossible to increase the probability of a more just reality now for our children and the generations to come.
Make no mistake; this is Octavia Butler-level sci-fi. This is Officer Uhura’s world. This is an alternate reality that only creators could help us imagine. And imagine it we must.
Are you a leader ready to join me on this journey? If yes, then feel free to make my resolution your resolution, and let’s rethink everything, redress harm, and strive for liberation as we make justice normal tomorrow, together.
Managing Director @ TIIP, The Investment Integration Project, Co-Founder @ makejusticenormal.org and Contributing Editor @ ImpactAlpha