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Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland Lessons in Smart Inclusion

One day after a New York grand jury decided not to indict the police officer that
choked an African-American man, Eric Garner to death, Attorney General Eric Holder
held a press conference in Cleveland, Ohio, my hometown. Holder indicated that a
two-year Justice Department report found patterns of unnecessary force and other
civil rights violations by the Cleveland Police Department against African-American
citizens. The recent killing of Clevelands twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was the
tipping point. After Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown back in
August, Holder stated, The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right
now. His words could not have been more prophetic.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported on the Occupy Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in
Communist China. Simultaneous protests in Ferguson, Missouri and Hong Kong, China were both
marked by civil disobedience and street demonstrations. It is estimated that 100,000 have
demonstrated in Hong Kong. Due to the obvious consternation, an American reporter posed this
question to a Chinese protester, Arent the cops supposed to be the good guys? To which a
Chinese woman retorted, Can you tell that the cops in Ferguson are the good guys?
Protests in Nigeria over the shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown, have been trending non-stop
on social media. The protesters held their hands in the air to signify the dont shoot symbol of
compliance demonstrated by Brown. A Nigerian man stated that that racial profiling and the
mistreatment of African-Americans threaten the well-being and safety among people of African
descent worldwide. Despite the fact that 6,000 miles and a different cultural paradigm separates
Ferguson, Missouri from Nigeria, these protesters believe that their well-being is contingent upon
embracing a broader paradigm relative to being black. Now contrast that to Americans
distinguishing themselves from those people who reside a mere few miles from them. People
around the world understand the importance of viewing themselves as global citizens.
International news outlets from Al-Jazeera to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) show
protest demonstrators in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York representing a millennial generation
coalition of Asians, Latinos, blacks, and whites. The world is not only watching, the entire
spectrum of humanity is demanding change. Watching the protests on television provided some
redemption for my own negative encounters as an African-American man with white police in
America. A 1984 stop and frisk by baton wielding police in Los Angeles for being in the wrong
neighborhood still lingers in my memory. Being pulled over with my college buddy on the New
Jersey Turnpike in 1987 for speeding and ultimately frisked on the highway was humiliating. Not
to mention two Cleveland Police officers who pointed guns at me in 1994 before confirming it was
a case of mistaken identity.
While I viewed my own police encounters through a black and white lens, globalization and our
multicultural demographic transformation in the United States is demanding a new
paradigm. Ironically, the killings and marginalization of Africa-American men has become an

impetus for empowering collective diversity and inclusion. Human sustainability and innovation
require collaboration that crosses race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation just to start. This
is not merely the right thing to do, it has become the 21st Century model for survival. It is not an
accident that U.S. cities with the strongest local economies are multiracial, multicultural, and
populated by people embracing an array of value systems. They are magnets for talent attraction
and international investment. This is essentially Smart Inclusion.
Emerging nations understand that diversity must be complemented by Smart Inclusion. There is
a serious need within our great nation to rid of our insular ways and be more holistic. Shanghai,
Lagos, and Munich are now your hood too. While the protests are about our constitutional right
to free speech and police brutality, what is also at stake is our ability to sustain our position as a
global power in an ever increasing inter-connected world. We have to view our recent killings
through a global lens. So lets remember this as we move this nation forward in implementing
policies and laws facilitating substantive measures to reform law enforcement as well as fixing a
broken immigration system. The world is watching. Smart Inclusion matters!

Todd Q. Adams (@ToddQAdams) is Chief of Sustainability and Innovation at Visibility Marketing Inc.