Celebrating Black Lives in Transportation
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
In the wake of George Floyd's death and the worldwide protests that followed, awareness around racism in our communities and organizations is heightened. Many individuals and businesses are working to understand the problem, committing to taking positive steps, and acknowledging the important contributions Black professionals have made to benefit all of us.
Racism in Logistics: The Facts
Truckers throughout the transportation industry have experienced racism in many forms. The current seems strongest beneath the surface today—in anonymous racial insults and threats on CB channels and social media, passive behaviors like looking the other way, and discriminatory hiring practices.
A recent survey reported that almost 47 percent of carriers surveyed believe racism is an industry-wide problem and 44 percent have personally experienced or witnessed racism in their day-to-day work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) backs this up. From 2009 to 2019, more than 10,500 racial discrimination charges were leveled by people working in transportation and warehouse jobs (FreightWaves).
Racism is a complex issue, but here are a few immediate steps that businesses can take to make a difference:
- Acknowledge that racism is a problem
- Don't tolerate insensitive or racial comments
- Take claims of discrimination seriously
- Hire more Black managers and scrutinize your hiring practices
- Create a safe space to talk about racism in your organization
- Partner with Black-owned businesses
- Donate to organizations that focus on racial equality
- Educate yourself by listening to stories, reading about Black history in your industry, and learning about rights and responsibilities in the workplace
Celebrating Black Professionals in Transportation and Trucking
Today and throughout history, our industry has benefitted from Black inventors and businesspeople whose contributions have improved trucking and transportation for all.
- Frederick McKinley Jones was Co-founder of Thermo King and its chief engineer. He was a prolific inventor with more 61 patents, including one for the mechanical transport refrigeration unit, which enabled trucks and railroads to transport perishable foods (Great Dane).
- Garret Augustus Morgan invented the three-position traffic signal, which included a warning signal. This gave drivers time to slow down and let traffic clear, thereby reducing accidents (Great Dane).
- Granville T. Woods invented the induction telegraph system, which enabled moving trains to communicate with each other and avoid collisions. His 60 patents also include the third rail, which remains widely used today (Scholastic).
- Sharae Moore is a professional truck driver and founder of S.H.E. Trucking—or Sisterhood Empowering Trucking—to train and mentor female truckers of all races and create opportunities for them in the industry (S.H.E. Trucking).
- Michael Ware founded Black Truckers United, a 460-member organization for minority truckers, which offers opportunities to unite Black drivers and discuss business issues (FreightWaves).
- Kristi L. Jackson co-owns a trucking company and founded the Women CEO Project. Focused on thought leadership and business development to help female entrepreneurs advance their careers, the organization offers more than 40 courses in business (Black Enterprise).
A Better Tomorrow in Transportation
It’s important to stay aware of racism and discrimination in our communities and especially in the transportation industry. Open and honest communication will help us get to a better place. By acknowledging the problem, committing to learn, and taking steps to address racism, we may be able to start moving forward together.