Juneteenth – A Celebration and Call-to-Action to Repair and Rebuild
Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, FASHE
Principal, Chief Executive Officer
We live in such complicated times.
Forty-seven states now recognize today as the day that we celebrate the end of legalized slavery in this country.
Surely, we are all better for having rid ourselves of this terrible institution. Inflicting cruelty corrodes the person who inflicts it, though this corrosion cannot compare to the harm inflicted. And, while we have escaped from the shackles of this particular cruelty, we have much work to do.
Cruelty, fear, suspicion, may never be erased from our all-too-human condition. But maybe MLK was right; maybe, indeed, the arc of the universe bends towards justice; only sometimes it seems painfully slow to do so.
Yesterday, our Women@Mazzetti committee hosted a virtual “Privilege Walk”. (If this term is new for you and/or you’d like to learn more, this is a resource we referenced and modified for virtual application.) The intent of the privilege walk is to do a number of things, including to raise awareness of our own circumstances, being mindful of differences, and ultimately, leading to healthier ways to relate with one another (including having difficult conversations). Mazzetti Mechanical Designer, Cassidy Thompson, provided the following account of her experience:
“I first heard about the concept of a privilege walk from a video on social media. The video made me tear up just watching it, to see the disparity of people’s opportunities so affected by circumstances they have no control over. When Sue Rossberg (Mazzetti’s HR Director) suggested we do a virtual privilege walk, I was really excited. I thought it would be a great way to raise awareness for people and to start having hard conversations. When I took the test, I was not surprised by my results. I’m white, college-educated, middle class, and come from a loving home with two parents. Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to get more comfortable with the feelings of shame or guilt that come with having privilege that others don’t have. Nevertheless, I was nervous because I am still grappling with how to have these hard conversations with others.
Doing this activity, I was surprised by the large number of my colleagues who joined! We divided up into small break-out groups. In my group, someone talked about how they went to a peaceful protest…. Someone else said that they thought this was a great activity to showcase people’s different experiences… Someone else mentioned diversity within Mazzetti and supported having a committee focused specifically on it. One person talked about our recruiting process and the need to address diversity here more. Overall, our group’s conversation was not very cohesive, but rather, more an opportunity for us to share what was on our mind in a safe environment. It’s a start.”
So, today, the people of Mazzetti will come together as a community, a community of people working together to build the health of our own organization, and that of the communities we serve. Today, we invite you to join us by taking a moment to celebrate the ending of the terrible institution of slavery in this country, and, in so doing, to recommit ourselves to ending all forms of hate and fear and intolerance. Each of us, and all of us must recommit to building community with all people.
Let’s celebrate together today, let’s put our collective hands on the arc of the universe, let’s bend it as forcefully as we can toward justice.