Nearly every decision Dennis Haines makes is intended to make life better for his son — either now or in the future. Deciding to take the 21-Day Equity Challenge was no different.
Dennis is a Black man raising a Black teen in a mostly white suburb of Detroit. In addition to routine dinnertime topics like homework and sports, their daily dialogue includes helping his son build awareness of his surroundings and cautioning him about how certain behaviors — even things as simple as horsing around with friends — may be perceived by others.
It’s a talk most Black parents have been having for generations.
“Uncomfortable conversations are necessary. I’m not going to do my son a disservice by not having them,” Dennis said. “Regardless of how unfair that may be when he’s just trying to be a kid, it’s real.”
By joining the challenge, he hopes to gain more insight to inform the interactions with his son and eventually reach a point in the march toward equity where “the talk” is no longer necessary.
His efforts don’t stop at home. He is also using the content to engage with his co-workers at Stellantis, which sponsored the 21-Day Equity Challenge and encouraged its team members to join.
“The daily emails are good conversation starters and those are the framework for people actually changing,” he said.
Dennis said that Stellantis has also been hosting a courageous conversation series intended to break down barriers between divergent groups.
He wants everyone, from his current co-workers to his son’s group of friends, to understand that it’s not enough to simply say, “I’m not racist or that doesn’t apply to me.”
“We need people to take the extra step to promote antiracism ,” Dennis said. “I get that it’s not easy to speak up against that to your own peer group, but when you stay silent about racism, it only raises everyone else’s tolerance. You’re in a way putting the comfort of white people above the oppression of people of color.”