Originally published in June 2020.
It’s been almost a year since you heard from me and BE MORE. So much has happened since then. COVID-19 has ravaged the world and fundamentally changed how we live, while peeling off the thousands of bandages that masked our nation’s long-standing racial inequalities. Furthermore, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and too many other Black people have ignited a moral repulsion in our hearts against the more virulent virus of racism — a virus that continues to blight, kill, and limit the potential of hundreds of millions of people merely for the color of their skin.
BE MORE began as Black Males Opportunities Research (BMOR) in 2012, originally a year-long research project I led to identify four root causes of systemic racism: bias, traumatic environmental factors, lack of resources, and policies. We are bearing witness to their effects firsthand through ever-growing levels of inequality, cruelty, and unfairness in our nation. While Black and Indigenous people bear the brunt of this burden, these problems affect all of us. I believe that in order for us to create true equity and belonging in our nation, we need to address the root causes of systemic racism.
Our decade of research indicates that breaking bias, both conscious and unconscious, is the prerequisite to tackling the other three root causes. Using this lens, we began the work of breaking bias using a science-backed, compassion-based approach. This is how, in 2014, BMOR became BE MORE: Beyond Equality Movement of Opportunities Rising for Everyone.
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Grace Lee Boggs, Toni Morrison, HH Dalai Lama, and many other wise and compassionate social activists, we built BE MORE to address the four root causes by breaking bias and building a beloved community. In the words of Dr. King, “this will require a qualitative shift in our hearts and a quantitative shift in our lives.”
Recent history has made it clearer than ever why we do this work. Racism and hate-fueled violence are not new, but the events of the past few months have brought them to our national attention like never before. This moment is a wake-up call. There is no dearth of money, resources, information, and talent to address these challenges. What we need now is the will and a collective imagination to act upon it, together.
Since you last heard from me, I’ve mourned the deaths of multiple extended family members and thousands of others who have succumbed to COVID-19, not to mention the persistence of lives needlessly lost to racism. The gravity of these losses has led me to recommit myself to the vision of addressing systemic racism. It has made me realize that this gift of life is too precious to take for granted and stay in fear.
Advancing this vision is going to require all of us taking action in various forms — organizing, protesting, donating, learning, listening — and I am now clear about my role. I have to teach what I have learned, experienced, and felt about these disparities in the hopes that others will move forward as innovators and teachers of this work. That’s where you come in.
In the coming weeks, we will make some changes to our movement. We need your help to make it successful:
- We’ve launched two hour-long on-demand digital courses, Breaking Bias Online and Breaking Bias in Healthcare. Sign up now to learn how you can help create a world without bias.
- We’re launching a four-week Breaking Racial Bias digital course for people who want to move past awareness to action by building daily habits of breaking racial bias. We’ve sold out this course to an inaugural pioneer group. However, you can sign up here to get on the waitlist for the next cohort.
- We are changing our name to “BE MORE with Anu” based on your feedback challenging me to take responsibility for our vision. To help support this vision, we will create an ongoing community learning space which you can access by being a part of our virtual courses. If you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on social media to stay abreast of our updates.
Lastly, I want to express my endless gratitude to the thousands of people who have been on this journey with me. The organizations that brought us in, the leaders who are doing everything in their power to move the needle, the doctors, lawyers, engineers, firefighters, community organizers, teachers, social workers, nonprofit workers, funders, investors, public servants, and others who have been our students. I am also incredibly grateful to my board, scientific advisors, mentors, teachers, team members, friends, and family.
I am doing this for you; I could only do this with you. Your passion, your drive, and your sincere dreams for a better tomorrow fuel my fire. You teach me to be more every day, and I long for the day when we can unleash our powers and build a new reality together. I feel the blessings of our ancestors carrying us forward towards building a truly global beloved community. With wisdom and compassion in our hearts, we shall overcome this global test of hatred, greed, and ignorance in our humanity.
As always, if you have suggestions about BE MORE or if there’s anything else on your mind, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to being on this journey with you.
With endless gratitude and strength,