US Navy Al Hands Message. Via USN
While a handful of American maritime stakeholders, including Longshoreman unions and Military Sealift Command, took early and definitive action in support of black sailors, the majority of the industry has remained been silent while Black Lives Matter protests continue throughout the United States.
With few industry leaders engaging on this topic, where can black mariners turn for guidance and support during these difficult times? What resources are available to those interested in promoting diversity and inclusion in our industry? How can the industry help shipmates in pain right now?
While gCaptain continues to search for answers, the best we can do is point business leaders to highly successful diversity programs in other industries, maritime organizations that promote diversity of all kind, and a few great books about the subject.
Strong leadership is needed especially for the hardest hit by this issue: young maritime students.
The US Naval Academy is currently in turmoil after racist remarks were made by an influential Alumni Association member early this month. Shortly after that, news broke that US Merchant Marine Academy President Jack Buono released a strong letter of support for minorities after a racially charged video of midshipmen appeared on Twitter. Finally, over two thousand students and alumni have signed a petition for SUNY Maritime to address the issue. Support for the petition has only grown this week after photos of alleged KKK members were found in a 1979 edition of the school yearbook.
While America’s maritime schools work to address these concerns, one entity has taken a step further. The Organization Of Black Maritime Graduates last week issued a letter to maritime students which includes a call to action and a strong statement of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Organization of Black Maritime Graduates (OBMG) was formed for minority cadets by Black Merchant Mariners and Maritime Professionals. We stand in solidarity with the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. We believe it is time to speak up and enact change in a society that has normalized violence, bias, and racism. It is time for people of color to be heard, respected, and treated justly. If we want justice for all we must honestly acknowledge how justice is denied.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. MLK
To underrepresented students and cadets, we want you to know that we are here to support, mentor, help, and listen to each and every one of you. It is time for you to stand up and speak up. We are standing with you and will continue to advocate for you. As we move forward in our partnership with Maritime College and the Alumni Association, we can and will make an actionable change for our young scholars.
Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. JFK
To the Maritime Community, our goal is to help the underserved to become empowered citizens as successful mariners, professionals, and leaders. We need a supportive environment for these young men and women, so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The OBMG, along with our members and supporters, will continue to make a difference.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
It remains too early to tell what the effect the Black Lives Matter movement will have on our industry, but my hopes remain positive that more leaders will join Captain Cook, and Rear Admirals Buono and Wettlaufer in sending out strong messages of support to minority sailors.
Those looking to support OBGM’s efforts can make a donation via this link.
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