Change starts with you

By N’Neka (Neka) Wilson

Recent days have been incredibly disturbing for many of us. Despite our expectations, and our advancement as a society, we are still troubled by racial shackles that have plagued our nation for decades.  It leaves me wondering, “Ok Neka, what can YOU do? We can’t keep going like this.” 

But I have to be honest. A silent rage stirred in me last week, even as I smiled and performed my duties, and even as I brought my best self to my client engagement, continuing to solve for issues to help their organization thrive.  And even as I joined multiple TEAMS meetings and smiled and conversed with colleagues and leaders across the US, all I could think about was “exactly how much more do ‘we’ need to do?”

“We” are told to be good citizens, get good grades, go to good schools, be respectful, work hard, abide by the rules, follow the law, advance yourself, dress right, wear your hair certain ways and let’s not forget, work 2x as hard as your peers in order to gain recognition. Well I have done that and so have so many fellow colleagues, citizens, neighbors, strangers, humans; we have done that.  And yet, due to pigment, we still are feared, often overlooked, and continue to struggle for equality.

So what next? All week, I struggled with speaking up and reaching out to my leaders because let’s face it, who wants to be labeled the angry black woman.  Then I thought, Neka – it’s not about you. It’s about those fearful of expressing their pain, it’s for those who have questions and are scared to ask so as not to be condemned as racist, it’s for those who want to stand up for their friends hurting but are not sure how.  Truly, it’s for all of us.  And so I chose to lean into our Values, and reached out to leadership.  I have to tell you, I cried when I saw my leaders jump in and say this is their fight too. I cried when I saw friends (of all races) say I love and cherish you. And I cried when I saw rallies of diverse faces stand together in solidarity across our country.  

We have a long way to go. I will not pretend that we are close but I will say this, I no longer have that rage in my heart. Instead I have conviction and hope because I am reminded that others see and want change as well. I am reminded that power in community dismantles division.

So again I asked myself, “Neka what can you do?” and this time, I had an answer.

I will continue to love, continue to lead, continue to smile and remain steadfast in pursuit of my goals.   I will continue to believe that we, each one of us, and I mean ALL of us, are special and Together, our superpowers can course correct the indiscretions of those that choose to live with malice and hatred in their hearts.  I will continue to have the Courage to speak out for understanding and civility because our passion is our power and I am reminded to continue tapping into mine. Will you?    

 N’Neka (Neka) Wilson is a senior associate in Advisory’s Human Capital Advisory group. She is based in New York City at KPMG Ignition.  

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Kristen Morgan

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