Welcome to VIBE Voices. We created this series to provide a place for conversations around VIBE: valuing inclusion, belonging, and equity for all. We believe these sometimes difficult discussions are more important than ever.
In this post, we share the voice of Chad Belinfanti, an integration consultant at Workday who is based in Atlanta. He’s also a member of Workday’s Talented Tenth employee belonging council, which focuses on supporting our Black community. He shared this story at the Belonging and Diversity Town Hall for all employees earlier this month, which we’ve adapted for VIBE Voices to share ahead of Juneteenth and Father’s Day.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be a Black employee in this moment. I’ve had a really difficult time trying to package all I’ve been feeling in the past month, and even prior to that, into words that make any type of sense.
My personal therapy is to work outdoors, like cutting my grass. And while I was cutting the grass this week, a repeated thought was, what do I want to say right now? I kept coming back to a concept explained by an article that was shared in our Workday Diversity Slack channel: Black employees are not OK right now.
In fact, that’s exactly what I shared with my colleagues who attended a recent Workday Town Hall on Zoom: I am your Black Workmate, and I’m not OK. I’m a father of two beautiful children, a 14-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, and this rising tide of emotion I’m experiencing started with the Ahmaud Arbery case. It’s a big one down here in Georgia; one that came to the forefront only when the video of the incident was released. When the story gained momentum on social media, my daughter saw the video, forcing my wife and I to have some very difficult conversations with her.
My daughter loves to play sports and would love to go running on her own, but especially after Arbery’s murder, I simply cannot fathom allowing her to do so. Then, the Christian Cooper incident occurred a few days later. It prompted another rising tide of emotion. I’m a photographer, and I could very easily see myself in the same situation as Christian Cooper, in an area just like the Ramble in Central Park. His education didn’t matter. His upbringing didn’t matter. It hit me on a personal level, that like so many other cases before this, it could have just as easily been me.
Then, on the same day, the video of George Floyd showed up. It forced yet another difficult conversation, and I cannot convey what that vision of a man’s life leaving his body does to a child. I cannot convey what it’s like to explain that to a child as I’m processing it myself. In this moment, I don’t want to dwell on that because I cannot.
As I needed some time to process all the events, both of my children went to spend the following weekend with their grandmother. On Sunday morning, I got a text from my daughter that blew my mind. The question was simple: “Can I post for #blackouttuesday?” I was embarrassed to admit I didn’t know anything about it, and I didn’t know how to respond.
Meanwhile, even in my own home, I was walking around like a zombie. My wife and I had breakfast that morning at a local restaurant—just the two of us—and after we talked about the events unfolding, we both sat for a while in silence, tears on our cheeks, not saying a word. As we left the restaurant, she held my hand. The responsibility of carrying this burden—magnified by the roles of father, son, brother, friend—is overwhelming.
I eventually had a conversation with my wife about our daughter’s request to post for #blackouttuesday, and quickly realized this wasn’t about a hashtag; she was trying to find a way to participate. When I asked, ”Why do you want to post that?,” her message was, “I want to show solidarity.” And that was heavy. It was heavy because she was looking for her father to provide direction—and I wasn’t sure how to give it to her. But in that moment, I made the decision: I’ve got to be not just a father and a colleague. I’ve got to be a guide for my daughter, and help educate others, which is why I shared those feelings in the Workday Town Hall. As tough as these conversations are, we have to have them. Not because I want to, but because we all absolutely need to.
I don’t know if people will understand or even relate to what I’m saying right now. But I pray that you all hear me. For me, it’s about not being silent. It’s about showing solidarity, no matter what color you are.
So I’m asking for you to look at all of your Black colleagues and friends, and know this: They are not OK.