Our Time to Reset America
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
The U.S. and the world are at a tipping point. It's on us to shape what the future looks like.
I hope this letter finds you safe and well.
I was expecting to write to you in the next few weeks to introduce a series of exciting changes at OZY — a new TV show, a terrific new newsletter, a smart new game and more. But the last few days have made it clear to me and to our team (as I’m sure it has to many of you) that the U.S. and the world are in many ways at a tipping point. Between the pandemic, the recession, George Floyd’s murder, the continuing racial heartache, the fast-approaching and contentious election and the element of chaos that President Trump has injected into our politics, America feels as tender as it has in our lifetime.
As one of four Black siblings growing up in a humble household on the outskirts of Miami, I was not immune to racism, hunger or police violence. But as a family we hoped that better was possible — and my parents and relatives again and again encouraged me to keep on keeping on. I am cognizant that having the opportunity to become one of the few Black chief executives to lead a vibrant, growing U.S. media company is ample evidence that I have enjoyed a lot of the American Dream and am immensely grateful. But despite my relentless optimism, what has unraveled in the past few days is something I cannot ignore.
Truth be told, I am conflicted. As journalists, we at OZY have tried hard to be disciplined in our charge to cover what I know is a complex set of truths. Some of those are represented in the voices of enterprise, technocracy, social media and political gamesmanship that the media amplifies easily — and others are only resonant in voices that are marginalized and often unheard, whether Black women or Latino families or the LGBTQ community.
But as a media executive of color, I strongly believe we have a responsibility now to move beyond just chronicling what’s going on. We must meet the moment. OZY needs to be part of a resetting of America, reporting not only on things as they are, but also on what they can and should be. That might mean less Elon Musk and more Martin Luther King or Colin Kaepernick.
To do so, OZY will ask difficult questions in the coming days about where we are as a society, what values we hold as central, what kind of change is needed, and what bold solutions might look like to some of the biggest challenges we face. Should people of color propose a new Bill of Rights? Can our economic system deliver justice and if not, what kind can? What are the perils of reactionary activism? What does the updated version of the American Dream truly look like? What have the 1% earned and what is fair to expect of our society’s leaders — across politics, business, technology, entertainment and the media? How can ordinary Americans make a difference now?
Starting with racism and inequality, we will take on the issues that matter in a studied, participatory and global way. As has been OZY’s hallmark, we will also invite a variety of voices to the table, all of whom we believe will broaden your perspective — even though you will undoubtedly disagree with some of them.
Weighing in as aggressively as we expect to will make some people feel uncomfortable. And indeed, we will not always be perfect. We invite you to point out when you think we’re going wrong, and we promise to accept any errors with complete transparency. Where we disagree, we will try to do so respectfully.
Some of our friends will have a different critique — that we took too long to get here. That we have been too safe. That we are still not calling President Trump a menace and a racist — or that we’ve been too lenient in holding the left accountable. And that this lapse is part of what got us into this problem in the first place. Are they right? I am not sure. It feels more complicated and textured than that — or so I am telling myself. In any case, a new moment is here and the most pressing question is what we will do now.
Needless to say, we will continue to uphold the highest standards of journalism, and in fact aim to elevate our craft even higher. OZY has always wanted to help people not only see more, but also “be more” and “do more.” And if ever there was a moment for that, it is now. But we also need your help in charting our next course. I thank you in advance for your thoughts.
As Dr. King said over 50 years ago as he stood in the sweltering August heat, we cannot miss the moment and cannot look a broken system in the face and simply call for the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. America was and is a bold experiment. But she will not be OK on her own. OZY is ready to step up. Let’s march on this journey together.