Handing over this week's edition to my high school friend, now a Dr at University of Connecticut
I was once told by a very good friend of mine that I “wasn’t really black” because I was “smart”, “kind” in premed classes and I liked the Beatles and REM…
but I was “black enough” to be stopped by police officers because I fit the description, a laughable photocopy of a black face which looked just like me because I had eyes and a nose and ears and of course a black face. They were looking for a rapist and I, all 13 years of me, in my Catholic school shirt and tie “ fit the description”
I was “black enough” to be called a nigger randomly as I walked home one evening.
I was “black enough” to have white women step out of the elevator whenever I walked in
I am just “black enough” to be seen with suspicion and fear.
I was “scary Dr. Alerte” until I painted a smile on my face and donned the elbow padded tweed jacket uniform of the academic. The safe academic who probably won’t attack you or rob you or assault you. I wear a shirt and tie everywhere because a hoodie just might get me killed.
I named my son Atticus after Atticus Finch and I find myself secretly, quietly, happy that due to his genetics he is just “white enough” to “pass” so hopefully he won’t have to walk the road I’ve had to and hopefully I won’t be standing over his grave.
I am so very, very tired of the understood and accepted world I find myself in.
Earlier in the month several articles started popping up talking about people suffering from Quarantine fatigue, after a considerable amount of time asked to #StayAtHome. With Memorial Day just around the corner, these theories will certainly be put to the test, as the Greater NYC metro area is still shy of hitting all the NY Forward re-opening metrics. I had firsthand experience with this last weekend, with the weather obliging many more cars and walkers were visible. A week later and the metrics continuing to improve should only add to that. My hopes is that it is a moderated and safe break from quarantine.
I mainly bring this up because the fatigue appears to be setting into the schedule of virtual networking events. Have we hit a Zoom Wall? Part of it, I suspect, is resources being shifted to opening business back up. At the same time, I have noticed a drop off in
attendance at events
participation within events
availability of events
Are we saving our energy to dust off professional attire and finding alternates to public transportation. Or has the novelty of video conferencing genuinely worn off and it needs to go back on the shelf, behind a glass pane “Break in case of emergency”?
Virtual Experience Improvements IRL
My perspective continues to be that the quality of these meetings needs to improve. “Yes”, the tools are freely available. “Yes”, everyone has a different schedule. And “Yes,” everyone has their own domestic situation. However, whether you are a team manager running regular status meeting, a moderator of a panel with diverse experts scattered nationally, or president of a community board, you should:
take the time to get familiar with the software, get to know as many of the “ins and outs” as you can. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
publish best practices for a conferencing setup to all your participants. Microphones, cameras, camera height/placement, background acoustics/visuals, etc. (Check out Epiphan’s Tuesday session, below)
Moderate the participants. Mute and un-mute only speakers when it is their turns, leave time for questions, and get as many involved as possible. Just like IRL.
Again, I know everyone has a different level of expertise, comfort, etc. If you can’t dedicate the time to be a master of all of these, ask for help. From what I remember about the workplace, there was usually one or two folks that would thrive when given responsibility and ownership of a task. I’d like to think that still exists. Fatigue or no fatigue.
The impact of COVID-19 is rippling through the worlds of business, sports, personal lives, and certainly this week’s newsletter. Here in NYC, congregations over 500 people are now prohibited, but events large and small, urban and suburban are being postponed, suspended, and cancelled.
I am happy to see local municipalities banding together in the effort to keep businesses, small, medium, and large, running. For example, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will be continuing outreach with a daily email and are actively seeking businesses in distress that they may support in one form or another.
Last Friday I received my first invitation to an online event, to subsidize the lack of in person gatherings. I fully expect more of these type of events to pop up in the coming weeks. As they reach a critical mass, I will return to curating networking opportunities for us all and sharing across this medium.
I’m sure you have no shortage of emails stating CDC and WHO guidelines, so I will not regurgitate them here. What I can’t stress enough is to surround yourself with information from reputable sources. To paraphrase NY Gov Cuomo from his daily update, the anxiety surrounding the calamity can at times be worse than the calamity. There is no need to spread false facts or worse: fear monger, let alone give into it. And as Stevie Wonder wrote:
“When you believe in things That you don’t understand, Then you suffer,”
Keep yourselves knowledgeable on the situation and how to take proper action when the time calls for it. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you out there networking, soon!