(English version without translation)
Here the fourth episode of our new project called : « Enough Is Enough ». During the next weeks, you will be able to read a testimony of someone living in Detroit-area or Michigan about many current topics : racism, US society, police brutalities, social injustices… The Pistons France Team wanted to give a worldwide stage in order to denounce some facts about America.
Today our guest is Carna Cureton (/crc1971), a Black woman living in Detroit who is working in human ressources.
Pistons France : First of all, can you present yourself for our followers who don’t know you yet. A short presentation because obviously it’s not our main topic today.
Carna Cureton : I’m a wife to my college sweetheart and a mother to two young men. I have worked in human resources for over 20 years.
P.F. : What do you think about the current movement in the USA? We saw many confrontations between citizens and police officers in several cities. How do you feel when you watch it?
C.C. : I have several emotions but mostly I’m tired. The confrontations have occurred for decades, even centuries, but I don’t believe the U.S. was ready for the conversation of why it occurs until now. 2020 has provided people with lots of emotions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the way health care and financial stability have been politicized. Like other countries, we have lost many people that we love, we have not been able to see our loved ones, and we have had changes in how we live our daily lives. Employment opportunities were lost, and people did not know how they would be able to pay for food, housing, etc. Then events occurred or were brought to light regarding how Black people are treated by the police and others in our communities. People have had time in 2020 to delve deeper into issues like why confrontations between citizens and the police occur and how it makes Black people feel when they are harassed (or worse) while doing normal things like driving, sleeping, exercising, shopping, etc..
I am hopeful that members of all communities will look to see similarities, not differences In each other. These are that same things that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. have wanted too. Hopefully we can continue to make progress.
P.F. : Do you think it’s tougher as Black American Woman to exist and work in the US than Black American men? Because there are unfortunately also some inequalities between men and women.
C.C. : Yes, I believe it is tougher. There are challenges for Black men because of their race but when gender is changed,it is tougher for women and the LGBT communities. Men are used to talking to men, regardless of their color, because they understand them better. Some men are as not comfortable talking to women as equals, particularly women in power. Men feel like they cannot be as open talking to men as they can to women,and they do not believe women are as knowledgeable as men. The voting rights of White women have only become equal to men within the past 100 years in the US and for Black women the time has only been for 55 years. There Is still room for improvement.
P.F. : As American citizen, how do you protest against the inequalities, injustices? Do you participate in the massive demonstration in streets? For you, what is the best way to protest and change the US society?
C.C. : I don’t know if there is one best way to protest because all methods of protest effect people and businesses differently. Marching, letters to CEO’s, not shopping with companies can all be effective. I have not personally participated in marching, but I have provided financial assistance for bail and attorneys to organizations that support those that demonstrate. Our younger son decided he wanted to demonstrate at a protestin our community and we were fully supportive, as long as he wore his mask.
Voting seems to be the most effective method of protest and change the US society.When we have people in office that represent all of their respective community (not just those that look like them), better Ideas surface and better outcomes occur.
P.F. : You are a huge fan of DCFC. What do you think about athletes who are kneeling or speaking up? Could sports be a useful weapon to protest?
C.C. : It’s easy to be a fan of DCFC since I share the same values as the club and the Northern Guard Supporters. Sports and athletes have always been used for protesting and will continue to be used in the future. I support all athletes that use their platform to kneel or speak on subjects that Impact the community.
There are still people that believe athletes are protesting the US flag when they kneel. They are afraid/ashamed to look at the reasons for the protests. Conversations that are occurring will ultimately be positive for society.
P.F. : How do you describe the current atmosphere in Detroit? Do you believe Motown could be one of the main cities to help and support the Black Lives Matter?
C.C. : Detroit has a calm atmosphere. I think people feel they have space to protest and have good relationships with the city and state governments as well as with the police department. Twenty years ago, there were issues with the government leadership but there has been a good partnership between the people and the government and police department. There are so many different people in the Detroit area of different nationalities, religions, races, etc. Detroit Is a city that Is supporting Black Lives Matter and I’m sure they will continue to do so in the future.
P.F. . If you don’t misunderstand what you do, you work in Human Resources, did you see during your career some situations where Black American were ejected of some fields?
C.C. : I have not seen a situation where they were removed but it can be difficult to get Black employees in the company or to remain at the company, especially in certain fields like engineering and technology. Hiring managers (who are typically white and male) feel comfortable hiring people that are like them because they believe it will be a better ‘fit’. They want candidates that attended the same universities, have a similar circle of friends, live in the same communities. The people in those groups tend to look like the hiring manager, who are primarily white males.
Once a person is in the company, how can we make sure they feel as though they belong? Due to some of the items above, Black employees (and women) may not feel as though they belong at the beginning of their employment. Inclusiveness within the organization Is critical to the success of the company and most companies have programs designed to ensure that all employees belong and feel comfortable contributing to help the organization succeed.
P.F. : You were student at University of Dayton, Ohio. Do you think the system of American universities is good enough or well-prepared to prevent from racism? Or racism is very expanded in these universities?
C.C. : In the 1950’s and early 60’s when desegregation became the law, there were a lot of predominately white universities that did not want to integrate. There were students, both black and white, that were fighting forequality, but change comes slowly. Today, students understand the power they have, including the ability to enroll elsewhere if there are racial issues and the universities are not living up to the commitment.
P.F. : How would you describe this type of period? Do you think medias could be part of the problem or contrary, could be a good solution to change the minds by trying to help the BLM?
C.C. : This is a very Interesting question. The mainstream media cancraft messages anyway they want. When US athletes began kneeling to protest the way Black people are treated, I believe the media could have done research to understand why this was important. Advertising is very similar, in that they reinforce stereotypes and make it difficult to move forward. The decision regarding who makes the decisions regarding what messages are carried by the media, normally does not have involvement from Black people. As a result, there are missteps which occur.There seems to be less of an opportunity for ‘mistakes’ when more diverse people are involved in the decision-making process.
P.F. : What do you try to do in your work in order to help the Black movement? Did you try something in order to break some clichés or inequalities? Do you think you could help with your work?
C.C. : I believe most HR professionals do this type of work because we want to see organizations succeed. We need to ensure we have the best ideas in our organizations, not necessarily the ones that sound like ourselves. My goal is to make sure any company that I work for looks for talents that help the organization, of which recruiting and developing people of color is important to me. I think teams should look like more like Marvel characters, where everyone has a unique set of skills and they feel supported and encouraged to use those skills to solve problems. My job Is to ensure we have diverse teams because studies show they provide better outcomes than teams with only one or two types of backgrounds.
P.F. : As a black American, do you have a personal testimony to share with us? A bad moment where you saw or lived the racism against you? Maybe during your childhood or your career?
C.C. : My parents were born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1940’s, 50’s, and part of the 60’s during the height of the bus protests, marches for equality, police dogs that attacked children, etc. Their hometown was nicknamed « Bombingham » because there were over 50 bombings that occurred in the city from the 1940’s to the 1960’s due to racial unrest. Several members of my family participated in marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My mother knew three of the four little Black girls that were killed when the church they were at for Sunday school was bombed by racists. This Is what shaped my parents before they moved to Flint. Hate was not passed on to my brother and me. They were more concerned with our ability to make good decisions and judge people fairly.
I have been called derogatory names in both my personal and professional life but today it is now more subtle. Microaggressions, like asking me for a Medicaid card (it is social assistance in the US for low income people) when my large company medical insurance information is in their files, is annoying but eventually the world will change.
P.F. : What would you want to tell to our followers, especially for our women followers and Black followers? Do you have a motto or quotes which motivate you in the daily basis during this though time as Black woman. How can we survive in a falling society which is stepping back every year.?
C.C. : Progressis messy and difficult, but it is necessary, and it is happening all around us. Know your rights and protect those around you. My godmother always told me, »you can do anything you put your mind to » and that makes me think that nothing is impossible.A quote by Shonda Rhimes reminds me that you need to put the effort in for dreams to come true. « Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. »