06.22.21 / Community Involvement

Juneteenth Panel: Anti-Racism, Allyship and Building a Culture of Inclusion

Talking Points

  • Juneteenth just became the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 – nearly four decades ago.
  • Guided by our Galaxy of Black Professionals employee resource group, Samsung’s observance of the holiday is an opportunity to have meaningful dialogues about the past and shape a more equitable tomorrow.
  • "There is a difference between simply not being racist and actively being anti-racist. Anti-racism takes courage.” – Samsung Senior Vice President of Mobile Sales, Leroy Williams.

Last week, Juneteenth National Independence Day became the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 – nearly four decades ago. The holiday commemorates the date – June 19, 1865 – when word of emancipation finally reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day, or Jubilee Day, has been celebrated for decades by many and recently received added national attention after global protests in 2020 sparked a national conversation on addressing systemic racism.

As a values-driven organization, Samsung is actively strengthening our culture of inclusion with the goal of empowering every person in and outside our organization to defy barriers and build better futures, together. Our company’s observance of Juneteenth is an opportunity to reflect and have meaningful dialogues about the past, as well as work toward shaping a more equitable tomorrow.

There is a difference between simply not being racist and actively being anti-racist. Anti-racism takes courage.

Leroy Williams

Throughout June, Samsung’s Galaxy of Black Professionals (GBP) Employee Resource Group (ERG) shared educational material and hosted a series of events to provide a better understanding of the continuing Black liberation journey. Among the events were “The Influence of Your Dollar,” a talk on the spending power of the Black community with Keosha Burns, Executive Director and Senior Advisor on Community & Affordable Lending at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and “Defending the Vote,” a conversation on protecting voting rights and exercising the right to vote with City Council Candidates and Community Activists, Denise Francis Woods (Los Angeles, CA) and Dr. Baranda Fermin (Dallas, TX).

Turning privilege into allyship is not only about being a voice for the voiceless. We have to seek out and understand the concerns of people who are underrepresented.

Cameron Batten

For the “Anti-racism and Allyship” discussion on turning compassion into everyday action in the workplace, host Chris Lezama, Director, TV Product Marketing Strategy and GBP ERG National Chair, and moderator Seth Brown, Senior Manager, Mobile B2B National Strategy and GBP ERG National Vice-Chair, were joined by panelists: Leroy Williams, Senior Vice President, Mobile Sales and GBP ERG Executive Sponsor; Richard Rosalez, Vice President, Legal Management and Unidos ERG Executive Sponsor; and Cameron Batten, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Samsung Equality Alliance (LGBTQ+) ERG Executive Sponsor.

Five takeaways from that profound panel include:

  1. There is a difference between simply not being racist and actively being anti-racist. Anti-racism takes courage. Being anti-racist means taking action to identify and oppose racism. It means protecting those that are being discriminated against because of race or advocating for a group other than your own,” stated Leroy.
  2. Turning privilege into allyship is not only about being a voice for the voiceless. We have to seek out and understand the concerns of people who are underrepresented. Being an effective ally is a skill like any that takes time to hone, and it requires substantial self-reflection, a strong sense of self-identity, and a willingness to step up,” said Cameron.
  3. Systemic racism is complex. It is important to educate oneself and make the time investment to learn the historical context of racism and its present-day institutional and structural forms. This education will serve as foundational building blocks that will help individuals see and address racism – not only in the workplace, but also in their everyday lives,” noted Rich related to Samsung’s rollout of new company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) training.
  4. The first step is to be willing to acknowledge that racism exists and not attempt to equivocate, whataboutism it, or get stuck in an echo chamber state. From there, we need to examine the role that racism, bias, and discrimination play in our lives, how we approach the world, and how we engage with people that are different from us,” said Leroy.
  5. In addition to combatting racial bias in hiring practices, mentorship, with a diverse lens, can also help foster a culture of inclusion. And while we’ve all experienced a case of mistaken identity, it’s critical that we can tell our colleagues of color apart. An inability to do so makes people feel invisible or less valued – and might even put them at a disadvantage when it’s time for a promotion,” added Richard.
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