Voices of Change — It’s Black History Month, What Can We Do?

| Malia Lazu

Diversity and inclusion are critical underpinnings to our evolving culture at Microsoft and powerful bridges to the marketplace. They can be determining factors in whether or not talented people come to work for us, and whether people buy our products. Through our investment in diverse partnerships on a broad range of opportunities, we continue to work to increase the pipeline of diverse talent, increase retention and match talent to job opportunities that are vital to our success in the future.This month, we are honored to feature the voices of local leaders who represent our commitment to diversity and use their drive to help the community in which they serve.

— Microsoft New England Staff



Black History Month: the month that reminds us we don’t teach enough diverse history of America. Not everyone’s story is the Mayflower story. The story of blacks in America is one of overcoming odds, and of finding your humanity in a country that fought a war against recognizing your humanity.

So, what should America do during Black History Month? Should we celebrate everything George Washington Carver was able to do with the peanut? Or remind people of all the things blacks have contributed to American History? While I think all of these things are nice, they are window dressing. Our country is in a new discussion on race and we should use Black History Month to come into the 21st century and look for ways to help strengthen our societal commitment to equity.

As the Executive Director of Epicenter Community, an organization dedicated to building authentic ways for people to come together and change the world, we noticed how much we focus on outward solutions, rather than asking people to look inside and to expand their hearts to include as many people as possible. What’s amazing is when you put diverse groups of people in a room, they get along beautifully. Our Juneteenth celebration at the MFA is a perfect example. We celebrate the blackest holiday in one of the whitest institutions and close to 3,000 people come and share together.

All the policy in the world will not help us find each other’s humanity. Only experiencing each other can do that. Let’s use Black History Month as a time to look inside our hearts and ask ourselves: what have we done to recognize the humanity in all of us? What are ways we can reduce silos and help people see each other?

There’s a Martin Luther King quote he gave in 1954 that drives me to this day. “The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.”

This month by all means, watch Roots and brush up on your African American History, but also use it as a month to do some exploring on how we can make America a brotherhood. Whatever ideas you come to us with, we are here to help.

Happy Black History Month.

Malia headshotUpon completing a two-year fellowship at MIT, Malia Lazu returned to Boston to build nonprofit models for the 21st century. With over two decades of experience establishing grass roots involvement in political advocacy and civic engagement, Malia felt the nonprofit industry was too dependent on money and was in need of disruption. Leading to her creating Future Boston Alliance and Epicenter Community, organizations working to change the world by bringing people together in authentic ways. The passion and success of Malia’s work has earned her a reputation as one of the most insightful and critical organizers of her generation, and caught the attention of MTV, Showtime, ABC-TV’s Chronicle, Fox News, and print publications such as Newsweek, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine.

In addition to her extensive work advocating for our youth, Malia has managed campaigns for numerous tastemakers including Grammy Award-winner and famed Civil-Rights Activist Harry Belafonte, American novelist Walter Mosley, and Peter Lewis, philanthropist and Democratic Party donor. She sits on Nation Magazine’s Editorial Board and the Proteus Fund.

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