A formal company statement regarding the events of the past week is long overdue – we realize and apologize for that. But it would have been easy to provide a canned statement, check the corporate PR and legal box, and move on. In no way, shape or form is what happened to George Floyd or the many before him, or the pain so many Americans are feeling something we can simply put into a few sentences and feel good about. That’s exactly why these things continue to happen. And quite frankly, it’s not who we are as a corporate team, it’s not what we believe in or stand for as a company, and we wouldn’t be true to ourselves if we did.
Today, instead of making a formal boilerplate statement as the CEO, we’re taking a different approach. We’re going to be real, genuine, raw, heartfelt, and true to who we are. We’re going to share our actual feelings and opinions in the hopes of creating a new path forward, one filled with hope – not divisiveness. This is a time for open communication and seeking to understand, which is why we have invited every one of our corporate team members to share their thoughts on the events of the past nine days, and suggestions on how to bridge the divide in this country, unfiltered. We know many will agree and disagree with our collective viewpoints, even amongst our own team, and that’s ok. Each one of us needs to learn to agree and disagree respectfully with each other and find a common path forward.
You can read the statements from our team here and we will continue to add the views of our team members as they share them. Our corporate team is diverse and comes from a variety of ethnicities, gender, age, sexual orientation, and religious backgrounds – just like all Americans. I don’t speak for them, but together, with many differing opinions and viewpoints, we make up the NextHome corporate team and family we’ve built together. We hope this inspires others to listen more, be open-minded, and provide a platform that allows each of us to truly hear each other, try to understand each other, and hopefully find a way to grow together.
Chief Executive Officer
Anger. Sadness. Disappointment. Disgust. Fear. Numb.
Each of these emotions I have felt multiple times over the last several days. My body has been on a loop and my thoughts have taken me places I never knew I could go. When you are a leader of a company that serves on a national level, you are supposed to stay in the middle on issues and not make waves. You are not supposed to have an opinion. You are not supposed to take a stance on any side… you must be neutral. You may as well just tell me to be a robot. The time has come for me to no longer be silent because being silent means I accept or condone. Well, I can no longer watch from the sidelines. I can no longer be silent. As a mother, I have a responsibility to stand up and be an example for my children.
As a mother.
When I saw the murder unfold live on TV of George Floyd by the hands of a police officer while three others watched as he cried out for his mother… no words. Every mother felt his cry but no mother felt his cry louder than every black mother in this country.
As a wife of a police officer.
When I saw the murder unfold live on TV of George Floyd by the hands of a police officer the world, at that moment for me, stood still. It brought an act that happened 2,000 miles away to my doorstep. My husband would now have to walk into the front lines of what is now playing out on every social media platform, news station, and screen in the world. The uniform he puts on and the badge he wears is supposed to signify peace, comfort, trust, and protection is now tarnished by the act of four others who have now endangered the lives of every law enforcement officer in our country… again.
prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
There is no room for Racism or Discrimination but it exists in every profession in our country. Some people are good at hiding it, but like any cancer or abscess, it pokes its ugly head for all to see. We cannot ignore it any longer. We cannot stand idly by while it goes on around us. We must find a way to rid our minds, hearts, and communities of it. We must find a way to embrace our differences and learn from each other to make sure our children and their children do not have to face what we are facing again today another 60 years from now. We must because if we do not, it will tear our communities and our nation apart, just as it is today.
My commitment to my children, my family, my community, and my NextHomies is I will lead by example every day by ensuring our company continues to be the most diverse and multicultural company in our industry. I love my children, my community, my NextHomies, and my nation too much not to.
Vice President of Sales
Since May 25th when George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, I have felt pain, anger, frustration, guilt, and have been left with so many questions. Why is this happening again? Why don’t things ever change? Why can’t we come together as a nation and fix this? How in 2020 are we still dealing with racism to the degree that we are? I don’t know racism, I’m white. I have never felt it, and like everything in life, it’s hard to fully understand things you’ve never experienced. And yet, here we are again, another African American man is killed by a police officer, protests ensue, and now massive rioting is occurring across our country for reasons that aren’t hard to understand. Did we think that doing nothing was going to cause a different outcome? Just because something doesn’t affect us personally, does not mean it doesn’t exist.
Racism and bigotry are learned behaviors. We’re not born with them, and therefore it can be unlearned. The question is whether “We” choose to not allow it to be part of our society and define us as people and a country. “We” is the first word used in our constitution. “We the people”… not me, I, or they, but “We”. It doesn’t say “We” the democrats, or “We” the republicans, but “We the People”. In fact, nowhere does it define “We” by discriminating on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, political views, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status. “We” simply means all of the citizens of this country – equally. Period. If “We” subscribe to the beliefs of this document, then Black Lives Matter. It’s not controversial for me.
Here are my beliefs:
- Racism and bigotry exist in America.
- Black Lives Matter.
- Most police officers are good, and the bad ones don’t represent the whole.
- Police officers need to speak up and rid the bad ones from their ranks. They know who they are.
- Police officers are not above the law and need to be held accountable for their actions like everyone else.
- Police officers need to be praised for all the good they do which FAR outweighs the bad. We seem to forget all the times they show up to accidents, burglaries, shootings, etc. and save people’s lives each and every day. We all know the statistics of police shootings annually, but do we know how many lives they save as well?
- Looters don’t represent the 99% of peaceful protesters fighting for a good cause. Don’t confuse the two. The ability to protest is what makes this country great.
- Looters need to be held accountable for their crimes.
- Journalists are here to keep us informed. They are not the enemy of the people, but they need to share the good in the world as well as the bad.
- Journalists need to remove bias and be held accountable for incorrect reporting. We have to trust them. Their job is to hold people accountable for their words – including our politicians.
- “We” need to be accountable at home for our own actions. We need to teach right from wrong, stand up for what is right, that lying is not acceptable, and accept responsibility when we make a mistake, not blame others.
Finally, we need leaders to rise to the occasion. Great leaders throughout history had Integrity, Empathy, Humility, Confidence, Compassion, and worked towards finding common ground with everyone from all different viewpoints and walks of life. This is no longer the America of today. We’ve somehow forgotten what great leadership is. We elect mediocrity and expect brilliance. The day we elect great people and hold them to the same standards we teach in our own families is the day real change can begin.
Chief Executive Officer
“Just stay in your lane.”
“Just focus on real estate.”
“Just stay neutral.”
“Don’t get involved.”
The easy thing to do would have been to consult with an overpaid public relations firm on what the “right” response would have been that wouldn’t offend anyone on behalf of myself or any of my NextHome colleagues.
After all, many other companies rolled out a response quickly, without substance and at-least-we-said-something-type statement… that really doesn’t say anything at all.
But that’s the easy thing to do.
But in these times, it’s doing the hard things that make the difference.
I have to admit, I haven’t been able to watch the George Floyd video in its entirety. Every time I get to the part where he cries for his mom…. I turn it off. It’s so painful to watch. I can’t believe this happened. All while those other three officers that swore to protect and serve did nothing to stop it.
I’ve had a difficult time putting my feelings in order the past few days. My wife and I have watched videos, read articles, shed tears, and felt extreme anger.
We’ve sat at our dinner table in quarantine and had discussions about race relations, how systemic racism has negatively affected the world, and wonder what we can do to make a difference.
I won’t pretend to know the answer.
But what I do know is that I can commit to doing the hard things.
The hard thing to do is to face racism head on. Speak up when an act of racism happens in my presence. Stop violence as it happens instead of seeing if someone is going to do something. Stand up for those that are oppressed and give solace to community members who experience racism, bigotry and hate. And commit to learning more about how I can be part of ending these injustices that have been going on for far too long.
Enough is Enough.
I’m committed to doing the hard things.
Because history shows the easy way doesn’t work.
I’m in pain. I hurt. When I saw the George Floyd video, like everyone, I was disgusted. It is wrong. It should not have happened and the officers involved should be punished.
The first time I saw #blacklivesmatter I was one of the people who thought “this is divisive”. I was more in the “can’t we make all lives important” and focus on police brutality and how NO ONE should be treated that way (which I still agree with the last part). With some conversations and some reading, I now much better understand that this is meant as a “too” statement, not an “only” statement. It’s amazing to me how adding that three-letter word at the end makes it make all the sense in the world to me. Black Lives Matter (Too) isn’t exclusive of other lives. They are just the lives that are most impacted so they are the ones that need to most help. This is pretty simple: black lives matter. Period. Add the “too” if you feel you need to. But I don’t.
Cops vs Bad cops: The cops that I know, and there are many, are amazing human beings who by everything I have ever seen truly want to serve and protect. And there are some really terrible cops. I do think (though I do not know) that there is institutional pressure to follow orders, not intervene and to cover for each other. What I don’t think we can do is speak of this in generalizations. Not all cops are bad in fact most are not.
Protestors vs Looters: I’m so proud to live in a country where we can protest. Protesting is something that should ALWAYS continue. And a VAST majority of the people protesting are protesting peacefully. And the looters are doing wrong. As I said I am sure a vast majority are not looting they are expressing their pain and hurt in a peaceful way. What I don’t think we can do is speak of this in generalizations. Not all protestors are bad in fact most are not.
This is a layered and nuanced conversation. We cannot paint with a broad brush on any of this (with the obvious exception of people need to stop dying at the hands of their protectors).
As I see it there is only one good thing to the pain I feel. It reminds me that I am connected to life. So I say don’t give up. Lean in. Lean all the way in to learn more and seek conversations to find understanding. Don’t be rigid in your beliefs. Be open to your fellow human.
Chief Strategy Officer
There is no doubt we are in the midst of difficult times. We are all dealing with a global pandemic and economic shock in many ways, and in the midst of this, the tragic and senseless killing of George Floyd.
Watching the video of George Floyd brings the flooding of feelings of anger, frustration, disgust, sadness, and disappointment. Change needs to occur and needs to occur now. Black lives matter and law enforcement is not above the law. I do not believe all in law enforcement are good nor do I believe all in law enforcement are bad. We live in an era where cameras and microphones are prevalent and hopefully will aid in the removal of those not fitting.
We are all individuals with individual thoughts and opinions but we are all people. We are all people who are a part of a town or city, a community, a part of a state, and a part of a country. Perhaps the best country in the world. But we are all just people. No one should live a life of discrimination or racism.
I feel fortunate to live in a country where we can protest and express opinions. I hope that more people seek to do so in peaceful ways.
Without making this about myself, or trying to compare it to the shocking death of George Floyd, many of us have direct experience, or through family or friends where racism and social injustice has been experienced and it’s not ok. I am Japanese American and during World War II my family and Japanese immigrants and their descendants, regardless of American citizenship status or length of residence, were systematically rounded up and placed in detention centers. They could take only as many possessions as they could carry and were interned in crude, cramped quarters. These concentration camps were located on remote and barren sites which housed thousands of families whose lives were interrupted and in some cases destroyed. Many lost businesses, farms and loved ones as a result.
While I have not gone through anything remotely similar to what George Floyd or the Japanese Americans during WWII, I have witnessed first hand racism and discrimination due to my ethnicity and uncommon name.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We are all just people and we need to respect each other equally and I believe that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. We are nowhere close to these ideals but it takes each and every one of us to start to make a difference.
Chief Operating Officer
Angry. It is not ok.
Saddened. It is not ok.
Disgusted. It is not ok.
Grieving. It is not ok.
Everyone is someone’s child. Everyone has a path that is their own. Everyone should be equal and equally entitled to live, love, and exist in this world without fear. For that I wish and for that I am hopeful.
I will not pretend that I know how those who have experienced the cruelty of injustice, prejudice, racism, inequality or the pain of not being heard feel. I can only try to put myself in your shoes and imagine. It horrifies me and I hear you. I support BlackLivesMatter. I support the LGBTQ+ community. I support immigrants trying to find a better life. I support the right to free speech. We can not allow ourselves as a nation to attack each other; we must support each other. We must strive to understand and listen to one another, to listen to every struggle, to every pain, to every injustice. We are in this world together and together we are strongest. Our country should be one that celebrates our differences, not “tolerates” them. For that I believe and for that I am hopeful.
I will not follow any leader who spreads hate and fear over love and understanding. For that I know and for that I am hopeful.
I am angry at those who take the cries of true plight and turn it into an opportunity to loot, destroy and further tear down our communities.
I am angry I have not done more to stand up and say NO to injustice.
It is not ok and we must do better. For that I am hopeful.
I am saddened our nation has gotten nowhere in equality for decades.
I am saddened to know this will not change fast enough.
It is not ok and we must change faster. For that I am hopeful.
I am disgusted when even ONE law enforcement officer abuses their power. As a society, we give them the important responsibility to uphold our laws, brutality is not one of them.
I am grieving for George Floyd, his family and anyone unjustly taken from us.
I am grieving that our country does not give me pride.
It is not ok and we need to seek love. For that I am hopeful.
I am hopeful that change can and will happen. Keep protesting, keep listening, keep demanding.
Director of Events
I’ve never been called a racial slur. I’ve never had anyone hold their purse a little tighter when I enter the room. I’ve never been stopped by the police for no reason. No, I have not experienced racism myself. But I recognize we have an underlying problem in this country I have called home for more than half my life now. It’s strange. Reflecting back, the first time I ever witnessed racism was during my first few days in the United States. It didn’t take long. And that’s the root of the problem, isn’t it?
I’m still in disbelief and feeling incredibly confused. How does a country that has the intelligence and the vision to launch people into space lack these same qualities when it comes to ensuring justice and equality for the human beings back here on our planet, in our towns and cities, in our neighborhoods?
The past few months have been tragic, many innocent lives lost to a gnarly virus. A virus that somehow managed to bring us together in spirit, checking in on loved ones, praising health care workers and first responders across the globe.
Then we have the events from the past few days… bringing light to the many innocent lives lost over the years to racism, discrimination, injustice, hatred for fellow human beings that deserve so much better than this. It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to elect the right officials who will be in a position to drive change. It’s time to actively work toward a resolution at home, at our schools, at our churches, at our organizations, at our local, state, and federal governments.
I will listen. To others who understand this better than I do, who understand how we can collectively make this better. To anyone who wants to share their experience with me so I can learn and do better.
I will share. With my friends, my colleagues, and most of all my daughter. I will do my damn best to pass on what I have learned from others, specific actions that will help bridge the gaps and heal the wounds.
I will love. Because as my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote says, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I’d hope by this point you’ve watched the videos, read the quotes, donated to a cause (whatever amount that may be) and started educating yourself on the realities of the world we’re living in today. As I’ve spent countless hours online and on social media over the past 9 days; what has impacted me most is my lack of knowledge of history and its impact on black communities, but also the stories and experiences shared by those personally. My education on this topic will continue to evolve so I’m not here to tout facts, statistics, or give you a history lesson. The story is why I’m writing today. Here is my story.
My first memorable experience with white privilege when I was around 20 years old. It was late at night and I was driving home to Modesto from Turlock in my ‘97 black Honda Civic. At that time, Honda Accords and Civics were the most stolen vehicles in the country and Stanislaus County (where Modesto is located) had the highest vehicle theft rates in the country. I had a headlight that was out and as I made a left hand turn I was pulled over by a police officer. When the officer came to my passenger door I could immediately tell he was shocked I was a young white girl driving this car in this town at this time of night. His demeanor completely changed as he asked me if I was aware my headlight was out. Ironically, I had a quote for the replacement headlight in my car, which I proceeded to show the officer. He let me leave a few minutes later and just asked that I get it fixed – which I immediately took care of the next day. Lately, I think about this instance all the time and how different that encounter would have been if I were black. Deep down, I know it would have been different if I were black.
I am the epitome of white privilege. I grew up in a white family, in a white neighborhood, and went to predominantly white schools. I have a college education, married a doctor and have a beautiful 3 year old daughter. The events of late have inspired me to take a hard look in the mirror and made me re-examine where I spend my time, money and the causes I support. To continue to go through life just as I am is no longer working. Not for me, not for my family, not for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor.
I am committed to raising my daughter in an anti-racist home. I am committed to supporting black-owned businesses. I am committed to educating myself on policies and legislation and its effect on black communities. I am committed to policy solutions aimed at police violence. I am committed to speak out and speak up in times of racism and bigotry.
Black lives matter. Please don’t say otherwise.
Change most definitely will not happen overnight, but it’s up to all of us to do our part. Please read the articles, watch the documentaries, support your black communities, and vote. If nothing else, please, for the love of God, vote in November.
I am hurting. I can not stand to see others sad or hurt, it drives a spike into my soul. I want everyone to take a knee, a moment of silence, or say the names of the people we’ve lost to a system of hate propagated by those seeking to cleave America in two. Since before we were even a country, the systems in place have treated Black Lives as less than.
Process the fact that racism means good people are hurting. Process the fact that people of color, mothers, women, husbands, fathers, daughters, sons, friends, police, reporters, your neighbors are hurting.
Racism is institutionalized and systemic and serves only to divide us. Do you want to help end it? Then do not let the powers that seek to divide us succeed. First hug your neighbor, whoever they are, and tell them you are there for them.
After that, the real work begins. Once you say that you are there for them you have to stand against all of the things that are making them hurt. Whether you are shielding them with your bodies, speaking out when you see injustice, learning more about other cultures, expanding who you mean when you say “we”, or just supporting Black-owned businesses in your community; you have to remember that every day your actions speak louder than any social media post.
Remember that a system of oppression and hate can only exist if you are complacent:
“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.” – Mario Savio
Member Services Administrator
It took me some time to write this. Over the past week, I have been overcome with a lot of emotion, and I have really taken some time to look at my life, and try to grasp how our country could get to this point. I am a 32-year-old white woman. I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont which is almost 100% white. I went to a small rural high school where there were one or two people of color. I went to college at the University of Vermont, where there was a very, very small number of people of color. Racism is something that was never prominent in my mind, I knew it existed, but I was never consciously aware of it in the communities that I lived in. I have to think that there is a level of ignorance based on where I grew up, and the fact that I was really never heavily exposed to any people of color. I’ve never had to think about white privilege, or what that has afforded me over the years, but it has afforded me many things. From education to getting a pass on things like speeding tickets, to getting good jobs. I really have to think that many things would be different were I a person of color, and I also realize that I will never truly understand what it’s like to experience systemic racism because I will never be a person of color.
I now live in the amazing city of Oakland, and it makes me sad to look at my neighbors, and the kids in my community, and think that anyone of color has to be afraid to live their life because at any time they could be killed. It makes me sad that George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others had to die for people to wake up and see how unjust our country is. Right now it is our duty to do better, to educate ourselves, to understand systemic racism, and unconscious bias, and learn to shift our mindsets to create a world that is removed of hatred, and safe for everyone.
Over the past week, I have attended several protests, I have marched, I have written letters to my mayor regarding police reform, I have donated to several organizations that advocate for people of color, but is it enough? I’m not sure, but I do know that the unity I have felt at all of the protests, seeing so many people of all races join together to show our support for Black Lives is giving me some hope. I just hope that we continue to spread the love, and continue to commit to learning and that this movement doesn’t get forgotten. If it does, I fear for everyone of color in this country, but I believe we can, and will do better.