LeBron James’s Business Partner Now Wants to Get Out the Vote

So it’s very topical at the moment, it’s gotten everyone’s attention. Everyone — business, political, social — everyone is talking about these issues. What can they do? I think in order to achieve real change, we as the black community need to come up with real asks and we have to determine, what do we actually want?

We obviously want some social reform, on police brutality and things like that. We also need political changes. But it’s more than voting. What are we as black people asking of these politicians? What do we want them to change? I don’t have the answer yet, but we need to get to very specific asks. And on the economic side, we need corporate America. You wrote an article that laid out how corporate America has failed black people. We need to create pathways for black people to reach the top of these companies.

What kind of specific things are you looking for on the corporate front?

At our company, we’ve just done it because it’s just who we are. Our upper management and throughout the whole company is extremely diverse. Men, women, black, white, Hispanics, all type of people work in our company. It’s great for business, but it’s also just good socially.

Putting black people on the board is one thing, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. That allows you to put a picture on a website and say your board is diverse. But the truth of the matter is you need to be very deliberate. Because the truth of the matter is the system that was built to oppress black people was very deliberate too. I mean, there was a Civil War. They went to war about keeping slavery alive. So it has to be very deliberate the other way that, “Hey, we’re going to hire this many black people by this date,” and you have to get it done. And we need to start to build these people who can work at your company through the education system, going and recruiting at historically black colleges and universities right away.

Social and political change needs to happen so it doesn’t become a class thing. It’s one thing for it to be racist, but it’s another thing to be classist. The protests were very focused on black people who have been literally killed by the police. Well, there are also millions in my neighborhood that are still alive and breathing and walking and healthy, but basically dead. The overpolicing of our neighborhood, combined with the public education system, leaves these people without the proper education, which automatically puts you on a path to end up with a criminal record, which puts you on a path that you don’t go to college. You don’t end up with a job, you get overpoliced. It’s just a cycle, you’re born into this, and there’s no pathway through it or out of it. Corporate America has to be deliberate about now fixing it and finding black executives and mentoring them. And how do they start to help fix the system that builds a pipeline for them for many more to come?

You and LeBron just unveiled More Than a Vote. Why start a political organization right now?

We want to get people of color out to vote, because their vote matters. Every politician tries to capture it. But it’s More Than a Vote because we want to come up with what’s our ask, and hold these politicians’ feet to the fire to make real change.

We’re going to build messaging that really helps our community get past voter suppression. And once we get the people turned out, then what’s going to be our ask after the vote?