A Personal Journey of a White CEO after George Floyd

Posted By: Carl Humphries Facing Race Together,

I’m a military brat.  I went to eight different schools in nine years and lived mostly in military housing as a child. 

This gave me a different perspective than many of my peers and relatives.  My neighbors and friends growing up were Puerto Rican, Black, Filipino, you name it.  When I was young, I thought it was normal to live in mixed race neighborhoods and have best friends who didn’t look like me.  

As I got older, I became exposed to the harsh reality that my experience was not typical.  I’ve had several “seminal moments” throughout my life that informed my view of race.  

  • Like when my best friend who was African American explained to me as an 8th grader why I couldn’t use the “N” word even though he used it with our other black friends.  
  • Like hearing the song “colorblind world” by the Boogie Boys in high school and thinking “yes!” but then being told that a colorblind world is not our goal by a college professor.  
  • Like sitting on an interview panel at a previous job and watching others on the panel explain why a well-qualified Black, female candidate just wasn’t the right “fit” for a certain position.  

I’ve always tried to treat everyone I meet with dignity and respect and to be “proactive” in seeking racial equity, even when I didn’t know that term existed.  

However, the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, shook me out of my comfort zone. 

Maybe I’ve been complacent and haven't really paid as much attention to matters of race as I should, simply because I've felt like I already had it figured out.  

I now realize that my journey is just beginning. I have a responsibility to research for myself, listen and seek counsel from African-American friends, employees and neighbors who have experienced the world differently, and figure out what it means to live and love in a way that truly values the worth of all others.

Carl Humphries,
CEO HopeHealth, Inc.
Together SC Board Member and 
Co-chair of the Board's Racial Equity Task Force

Watch "Removing Our Blinders: A White CEO's Personal Journey After George Floyd" hosted by Carl. November 5, 2020.