Honoring Others’ Brilliance with Fred Brown

by Aug 23, 20200 comments

Fred Brown with Christine Kroger and Pittsburgh nonprofit leaders discussion during Warm Data Labs

Fred Brown, who identifies as ‘himself’ and an African American, talks about the urgent need for resilient people to be at the table and supporting them to lead.  Fred also discusses what it means to honor one’s family during the pandemic, and navigating a world without privilege.

The Timestamp podcast is hosted and produced by Aimee Breslow.


I think the thing that alarms me the most is well-meaning people who continuously lack of inclusion, transparency, accountability, and diversity, and often plan for other communities without consulting them, nor having them at the table to address something many of those individuals who are sitting at the table have never experienced in their lives. I’ve heard that kind of thought process, alarming. Even in our current state of awareness, with regards to George Floyd. Beyond and other citizens that have been slain by our system.

I don’t understand how a person who hasn’t had a shared experience can ponder a response, without talking to people who have a different lived experience and persona that response is adequate. Because of their understanding from an external set of circumstances.

I think that that’s dangerous. I think is egocentric.

I think is appalling. And I think it’s illuminating. I think what it details, is that despite people’s commitment through words to be different.

There lacks the discipline to actually be different there lacks the resolve to be inclusive.

There lacks the capacity to be transparent. And I say these things with the candidates of heart and mind because I believe that many of the people I’m referring to are people who are well intended, being well intended, does not give you a pass on ignoring the right of self-determination of other people, is even more alarming that they cannot release the resources necessary for those communities to be self-sufficient.

Inherently, there’s a blind spot. There is something that is not allowing supporting are creating the condition, and well-meaning people to relinquish control to share this stage to open up the purse strings to create a systemic change opportunity, and people who are quite capable of taking care of yourselves. Despite feedback from communities on how best to address issues. There has been a wanton disregard for dominant culture of people to listen to an ear to what is coming from communities as just practice. I cannot understand how people who care about other people will not relinquish their power and resources to support a person or persons desire for self-sufficiency through a lens that they understand better than other people. I find it difficult to understand our why this continues at such a heightened level. And people are saying, all people sit by without outrage as to what we’re experiencing.

Worry beyond belief. At the State of America, and well meaning people who believe that in this moment, to have an awakening period, That went to it, in which you acknowledge the unjust treatment of black and brown people as being appalling. Through a theoretical framework that allows us to have courageous conversations without action. It is indescribable. And it’s unacceptable. And then corrigible to people who think they have that to have that conversation is significant. For many of us who are black and brown, we’ve lived our entire lives under the duress of that pedagogy for friends and colleagues to awaken in this moment, and find this activity appalling. And to think that having a conversation about it resolves the matter is unacceptable. And for people who say, I don’t know what to do, means that you’re saying to me, you don’t know how to be human. You don’t know how to look at me and say, I should treat you the same way I treat my brother, my colleague, my husband, my cousin, my father, just because my skin is a different color. It doesn’t make me less than human. I am tired of people who want to talk to me about how they’re feeling about my experience. I’m much more interested in people saying to me, here is my commitment to deconstruct racial institutions that have harmed you and your people and your colleagues and your family members and your friends, and other black and brown people around the globe for over 400 years. I today commit to deconstructing those systems, and working beside you, as a thought partner to evoke with them my capacity, the ability to mitigate those dynamics of risk. And because I don’t have your experience. I am committing myself to following your lead your direction. and to your discretion what I should and could do to support your efforts. I find it incredibly important in this moment that we as a people, to honor other people’s brilliance. Other people’s ability for self resilience. Others oppressed peoples need to lead and to find the courage for other people to support that leadership. Without hesitation or mental reservation. That’s what I think is most important in this moment for me.

The most important thing to most people is their family. What better way can we demonstrate that through our work through some of the things we could consider to ensure that there’s a balance between how we generate revenue for our economy and how we honor our family and community. This pandemic has pushed many of us, to the edge of a virtual reality. I find it tiresome to go from meeting to meeting to meeting virtually without even a bathroom break, people have figured out that we can just keep having meetings, because you’re not going anywhere. And they just stack them one after another after another. The mental fatigue associated with that is a direct correlation to our inability to honor our family. Even in this moment, or activity is driven far more towards preserving our economy. Then, honoring our families. This moment offers a glimpse into a pivot that allows us to put our families first. When we think about how we can honor our families how we can honor our time, how we can honor our community. I can speak to what my wife and my family have done. I’ve all said no, and to the left of my backyard is a garden that wasn’t there 25 weeks ago of watching my children and my wife, go out, plant seeds and reconnect with the earth. I watched my wife and kids take excess food from our garden to our neighbors. I watch my family bring back excess food from other people’s farms or organic, places, and, and bring them back to our home. So this notion that it’s all about money is a inaccurate notion in many ways. Wait, the way we honor one another, is by sharing our thoughts, sharing access, sharing our access, sharing our beliefs, our resources are way of being.

far too long work has been a place where you go and execute a task, and you’re defined by word, the pandemic is restructured that your title doesn’t mean a thing in your basement or your kitchen or your dining room. The corner office you had on Wall Street or downtown, doesn’t look as shrewd as saying, When is your back porch or your bedroom or your child’s desk. And in this moment is the opportunity to define our future. We need solutions that honor our people need to listen to other people who have historically been marginalized, and whose voices have been hamper that our desire to produce an economy to scale that serves a few, and not all. There are a small group of Americans who control more wealth than many of us combined. At what point. If Do you have enough money. At what point is your family secure for the future. At what point can you sit on more resources that you need and not provide support to other people who desire the same things you want. And we’re very quick, as a people to blame. Homelessness. Poor poorly educated people. People have broken down ghetto communities as not being hungry enough, Not being driven enough, not having the pedigree. To survive a Lyndon Baines Johnson’s framework of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Anyone who believes that does not understand, institutional racism. Anyone who believes that you can just make it without taking into account the other things that are at play every day of someone else’s life, that doesn’t look like you just articulates at a higher level, How many blind spots we have people look at me, and so that the success I have is applicable to other people who look like me. It’s not that easy. I’m an anomaly in the sense that I grew up on the street where many of my friends didn’t make it. I went to a school where many of my friends are either in jail on probation on parole or moved out of the city of Pittsburgh, and no way. If I ever considered myself to be better than any of those people. I was blessed and fortunate to make different decisions. Because let me be quite honest, I did some of the same things they did out of bed deprive out of being hungry, out of being having a sense of hopelessness. I was able to navigate my challenges differently than they were. I’m not better than they are fortunate in this notion that I just pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. The fact that other people had to open the door for me. had to hear me that to honor me, had to give me a chance, and I had to prove myself. I’m not automatically granted that, like other people are. We don’t understand privilege. We don’t understand it, everything is a wake up with the same privileges we had. If we believe, to our ignorance, that we understand everybody’s way of being, what they need, how they function, I No way ever believe that I understand what it is to be white. I understand what it is to not be white.

But I can’t imagine what privilege. I can’t imagine what it feels like to walk into a store and not being followed. I can’t imagine going to a store and asking how much would not be waiting on the process. To me, can you afford that. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be busy, still confident that I can mouth off or confront the police officer, without a response that might not end in my life being taped. I can’t imagine what that feels like, I can’t imagine going for a loan, and no my credit is not a one is still getting the optimum prime ring can imagine walking into any community or in any home or any business, and feeling like I have a right to be here. I can’t imagine what that feels like. So, when you walk around with that privilege. And you don’t take one moment to consider how black or brown or other person has to navigate your world, your community, your business, your society that you’ve lost the greatest asset you had. And that’s your humanity. Without that we’re nothing. We all rely on each other we’re interconnected. This notion that I can survive without other people is a false hope it doesn’t reflect any reality that I know, even the richest people in the world needs somebody to take care of their needs. And even in that moment, you can express you, your ability, and humanity, to those who serve. Just because they have a different social economic status doesn’t mean they’re less worthy to be treated as human. In many ways, they are. Oh, More humanity, because they’re serving you, because you’re capable of being served. And yet, we take that for granted. During this moment during a pandemic. Well we’ve lost over 160,000 Americans [as of] today. We have to ask ourselves, that we have been different actions have saved lives. What’s our rush to reopen more of a focus on your economy than our people.


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