“We are living in an era in which corporations are sometimes more powerful than the politicians that we elect. What we’re trying to say to folks now is, ‘Flex that power in the interest of your Black employees.’”

Founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Color Of Change is one of the largest Black-led racial justice organizations in the U.S. dedicated to leading strategic change for Black Americans. Arisha Hatch is Vice President, Chief of Campaigns at Color Of Change, as well as a long-time leader and innovative community organizer in the racial justice movement. 

In a special report on inequality in America, Hatch spoke with Wharton Business Radio host Dan Loney about how businesses and local governments can truly make a difference.

Interview Highlights

1. Speak out, then take action.

“Corporations could do a lot of things in addition to speaking out. They can make donations to organizations that are leading this type of work on the local level. We often talk at Color Of Change about the power of corporations and politics. We are living in an era in which corporations are sometimes more powerful than the politicians we elect. And we see corporations flex that power in their own interests. What we’re trying to say to folks now [is], ‘Flex that power in the interest of your Black employees, of your other POC employees. Flex that power on behalf of Black people and other people who really could use additional support and more of a voice to the issues that are really impacting their lives.’”

2. Address the inequality in your own workplace.

“I think it’s incredibly important, not only for corporations to speak out in this moment, but to also address some of the systemic inequalities that happen within their own corporations, within their own houses. Looking at diversities and career paths, looking at the way that they’re investing in our communities… It really would require, in order to be an ally, in order to be supportive in this moment, to do a wholesale assessment of the ways in which corporate behavior can change in order to improve the world for people.”

3. Local governments should focus on underfunded programs.

“There’s potential for more public-private partnerships, but what we’re also seeing and it fits with one of the demands that we’re asking for in the world is that police departments are given tons of money at the local level to do their jobs. Many things that we really need, such as great healthcare, great schools, and parks for our children to play (in), are completely underfunded. Mental health services are completely underfunded. We’re asking local governments to reduce their budgets around policing and incarceration, and to move that money into programs that will also aid in reducing crime and incarceration in their communities.”

4. While there is progress, much more work is needed to ensure change lasts.

“I have been doing this work for so long, and as an organizer, I have to be hopeful. I have to believe in a better future and a better vision for our world. I fundamentally see progress. The number of people (who) have reached out to me, (who) have checked on me, (who) have asked what they can do, that group of people is infinitely larger than it was a week ago or three weeks ago. (…) We are winning on key demands. A few years ago, even getting a charge would have been a big deal. People’s minds and attitudes are changing, but there is still a lot of work left to do.”

Gloria Yuen

Posted: June 10, 2020

Related Content

Read More Stories