Ashleigh Marable, project manager in Kroger’s Learning and Development department, shares her thoughts on Juneteenth and what we can all do to create substantial, long-lasting change.


Dear colleagues,


I typically take this day off each year as a day of reflection. This the actual freedom paper that my great, great-grandfather Peter Barnett had to carry around with him for more than 20 years indicating that he was a “free” person, having gained his freedom before the end of the Civil War. They describe his complexion, his height, and even his scars – I wonder what caused them. Was it the crack of a whip? What stories do those scars hold? I look at this quite frequently but always on Juneteenth. It is a stark reminder of a dark time, but it is also a good reminder that all of us are created equally and should be treated as such.

As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, it is important to remember that these differences should not be feared but rather explored.


What if 2020, the year that feels like it will not let up with all the craziness, was here to gift us, instead of being out to get us? A time to re-calibrate. A time to recognize our areas of weakness and be given the tools to strengthen our bonds. The work is hard. Mindsets won’t be changed overnight, but as we remain committed, change will take place.


Opportunities to speak my truth, hear from my co-workers and share with leaders remind me that this is the time to be vocal and vulnerable, enraged but engaged, and intentional in our calls to drive impact. There is still work to be done.


We cannot afford to say Black Lives Matter or share our commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives across cultures only when it is en vogue. Six weeks, six months, and even six years from now, we as a company should be just as passionate about this movement – anything less is inauthentic and further stratifies relationships that are in need of repair. We must make a decision to show up, not just when it is convenient, not just when the cameras are on, but every single day. Regardless of your division, location, job function, or title, we are expected to live Our Values, serving and leading with courage.


If diversity is offering a seat at the table, then inclusion is sharing a plate, and unfortunately, many are leaving the table because they are starving. We can fix this. We can do it through amplifying voices and advocating for those who should be in the room but are not. We do this by listening, even when the truth is uncomfortable and causes us to look toward reflection instead of deflection. We do this by calling out bias when we see it and calling in reinforcements when we need them.


By conducting listening sessions, associate forums, and opportunities for dialogue, we are moving in a positive direction. We must continue to be accountable to one another so we can drive for the best results. Together, we can make sustainable change if we all do our part. The load is lighter when we all lift together, are you willing to give me a hand?