Dear White Friend: The Realities of Race, the Power of Relationships and Our Path to Equity by Melvin J. Gravely II
Civic Leader & CEO Melvin J. Gravely II has written an objective assessment of the race gap in America in his new book, Dear White Friend: The Realities of Race, the Power of Relationships and Our Path to Equity, [Greenleaf Book Press, July 27, 2021].
In the book, Gravely eloquently accomplishes what many have wished to do: talk openly to someone they know about race. Combining personal insight with meaningful hard facts, Gravely challenges readers—without judgment—to adopt a new perspective on race relations, without which there is no path to effecting meaningful change. Gravely asserts most individuals are not overtly racist. But many do not recognize or question racism as the ever-present operating system of inequity, marginalizing Blacks disproportionately and creating headwinds against black gains.
We cannot begin to confront what we do not perceive as the root cause of economic, health, and educational inequities in our communities. The system is built into everything; its symptoms include high rates of Black male incarceration; multi-generational poverty; dismally low median personal wealth and rates of homeownership, as compared with white Americans.
Gravely is CEO of TriVersity Construction Company, which ranks among the Cincinnati region’s largest commercial construction companies. Gravely pursued a majority interest in TriVersity expressly to build a diverse company with the size and sophistication required to compete for large-scale projects.
He has built the company from one client, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, to a best-in-class enterprise building for bellwether clients like Procter & Gamble and partnering with Cincinnati’s corporate leadership to revitalize the city’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Dear White Friend is not a Cincinnati story, but Gravely’s immense personal contributions to the region’s civic and economic leadership over the past two decades inform the narrative.
The confident business leader admits the challenge of achieving racial equity is a topic so complex, he hesitated to author the book. Gravely decided now is the time to add his unique perspective.
“I am a black CEO who spends most of my time with white people. Many of whom I consider friends. What we never talk about is race. I was also increasingly concerned about the negative tone and tenor of our nation’s sound bites about race. People seem more interested in lobbing labels than talking, hearing, and working together to solve challenges. I felt compelled to lend my voice to this critical issue,” replies Gravely when asked why this book and why now.
“It is clear, we are simply not equipped to have productive conversations about race,” he concludes. “This book is an on-ramp.”
While many books explore racial issues in America it is rare to hear from a business leader on this topic. “I admit to still being uncomfortable talking to you about race,” Gravely writes in the book. “My indoctrination taught me to ignore the subject and its implications—to just keep moving. For forty-five years, I did just that. But today I feel compelled to engage you in this conversation. The problems created by our inability to talk about race transcend you and me. We cannot solve problems in silos or in denial or in anger. Yet, we can solve them together.”
In Dear White Friend, Gravely is not the corporate leader sharing insight, he is the successful black man imploring each of us to play a role to get everyone out of their own entrenched beliefs about race and onto a path of systemic solutions.
The book is structured around the three critical questions at the heart of the issue. First, what is really going on with race in our country? Second, why must we care? And third, what can we do about it together? The book is candid yet collegial; thought-provoking yet full of practical solutions; direct without placing blame. In the end, Gravely calls upon readers to ask themselves, “What’s my role in all of this?” Readers will realize their answer to his question can change everything.
For more information, please visit www.DearWhiteFriend.com.
Dear White Friend will be available for purchase on Amazon and through other major booksellers.
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