LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Diversity training for businesses in Louisville's NuLu district will kick off Wednesday. It's part of the new NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council's push toward a more diverse and equitable business climate in the area. The training will encompass aspects such as teaching how to identify and abandon microaggressions, but some people who formerly protested the lack of diversity among area businesses are still skeptical.
What You Need To Know
- Diversity training for NuLu businesses kicks off Wednesday
- Training is part of NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council's push toward diverse, equitable climate
- Protests formerly critiqued lack of diversity among area businesses
The man heading up the council is an entrepreneur himself, André Wilson. His fashion and styling business, Style Icon, was founded about 20 years ago. Therefore, he knows the struggles of starting up an enterprise.
"It can be such an arduous journey of roadblock after roadblock," he explained.
That's why he's happy about the council's initiative to help new Black business owners get their dream jobs off the ground.
"You feel like you're alone," he explained.
But he's not satisfied with the current number of Black-owned businesses in NuLu. He says there are currently three, with more set to come. That's why he says it's "time for action," which is what the council is doing.
"We have protests, all of that, okay...advocacy. But if we don't address economic empowerment in the Black community, if we don't address the wealth gap, we're going to be marching and fighting and clawing for another hundred years," he said.
There have been protests in NuLu against the gentrification of the area. Protesters with Occupy NuLu made a list of demands and urged business owners to sign a contract pledging more diverse business practices.
The list of demands is as follows:
- Businesses to represent the Black population in Louisville by having at least 23% Black staff;
- Shops to include at least that percentage of inventory made by Black retailers;
- For Black women to conduct the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training;
- To display written words promoting reparations;
- For nonprofits to have that 23% Black representation on boards of trustees;
- Quarterly round table discussions for accountability on racial equity goals;
- "Adequate" Black representation at entertainment performances held at businesses;
- Elimination of dress codes policies that promote racial profiling and discrimination; and
- At least 23% Black representation on the NuLu Business Association Board.
Talesha Wilson is one of those who protested, and she wants the contributions of Black women, in particular, to be recognized. She claims they had a pivotal role in getting the Diversity Empowerment Council founded.
"[We want] the neighborhood to represent the people who used to be there, who were pushed out of that neighborhood because it was gentrified," Talesha Wilson said. "Also, people think that because you do a little bit or you sprinkle a little bit of Black people here and there, that that's enough, and it's not," she added.
André Wilson says area businesses have already "bought-in" and are participating with the training and working toward the diversity goals. He's expecting change. It's his way of helping push toward racial justice.
"We've had panel discussions, symposiums, breakout discussions, on diversity," said Wilson. "But where is the true change? Where is the increase in management? The increase in salaries? The increase in executive positions?... I want to see a Louisville that embraces diversity and embraces being inclusive and is actively working to see how can we be better."