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Bruce Jackson: Never Far From Home


Bruce Jackson

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Kelly meets Bruce Jackson, associate general counsel for Microsoft and a former entertainment attorney. He has a new memoir, “Never Far From Home: My Journey from Brooklyn to Hip Hop, Microsoft, and the Law.”

When you look back at how and where you grew up, what did you learn from that experience?

“I saw enough inequities within own my community, right? And when I started to get opportunities, and I realized why others have not: because the systemic racism that exists could remain the way it is. It should have changed years ago, and the fact that it hasn’t - that's no secret. My philosophy is no one is smarter than someone else. It is all about resources and environment. In fact, if you take someone out of the inner city and put them in an affluent area as a kid, that kid would do extremely well. And if you take the one out of the affluent area and put them in the inner city, they'll struggle. So, we know the answer. So why can't we just fix it?”

Tell us about your mom.  

“She was the anchor of the household, right? She was a single parent raising 6 kids. She worked in both a glass and a peanut factory, and that certainly wasn't enough to raise our family financially. So, we're on public assistance my entire life, but nonetheless she supported us and gave us all she had and was an inspiration for me to move forward. There were times in my path where I wanted to quit, but I drew on her struggles and the struggles with my grandmother, my aunt, to carry me forward.”

You note that a lot of businesses talk about diversity and inclusion, but that it’s just that: talk.

“I think it has to be intentional diversity efforts, and what I mean by that, Kelly, is that there's a lot of diversity activity, and it's just activity. And to me that's noise. My premise that I always start with is what results have you made? And if you made positive results, let's analyze the activity. And then, if it's great, then perhaps we should see how we can tweak it to improve it. So, you can have greater impact. But I think a lot of companies are just paying lip service. They have a lot of activities that they want to basically put in the box and say, hey, these are the things that we're doing as opposed to really looking at what people are actually doing. And when we look at diversity, particularly in the legal profession, for the past 20 years it's been pretty flat. My position is: let's hire women and minorities and let's promote women and minorities using the same stand as we do a Caucasian man, and you may say, well, what's that? People are promoted based on potential.”

Photo credit: Erskine Isaac

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