‘Dear White Friend’ — A Black CEO Wants to Have a Word with You

CEO and author Melvin Gravely, II wants to empower Black and white people to discuss race in
a productive way professionally and personally through his new book, Dear White People.


Melvin Gravely, II knows what it feels like to be the only one having a seat at the table.
Gravely, a Black CEO and civic leader in Ohio touches on his experiences of being the only
Black person in the room at times and provides tips – and suggestions – for white people when
navigating difficult conversations in his new book, Dear White Friend: The Realities of Race, the Power of Relationships and Our Path to Equity.

Gravely is described as a “rare business voice” that speaks out on race is the majority owner
and CEO of TriVersity Construction Group, a commercial construction company in Cincinnati,
Ohio. As one of the largest construction companies in the region, it is a consistent member of
the Deloitte 100 list of the largest privately-owned companies.

Released in late July, the author shares his thoughts in the book on “what many have wished to
do: Talk openly to someone we know about race in America.”

“I am a Black CEO who spends most of my time with white people. Many whom I consider
friends,” he said in a press release. “What we never talk about is race. I was also increasingly
concerned about the negative tone and tenor of our nation’s sound bites about race. People
seem more interested in (creating) labels than talking, hearing, and working together to solve
challenges. I felt compelled to lend my voice to this critical issue.”

He added that it is abundantly clear that not everyone has the tools to equip themselves to
“have productive conversations about race.”

“This book is an on-ramp,” he said, adding that although he is still “uncomfortable talking to you
about race” at times, it’s necessary to solve these race-related issues together.
Gravely told the Michigan Chronicle that the inspiration behind his book came after he went
through racial equity education in Cincinnati in the fall of 2019.

“It woke something up in me,” he said, adding that he’s been in a “white world” throughout many
parts of his life, and it shaped his perspective on interracial issues. From being bussed to a
primarily white middle school to being among white peers professionally – he said he “learned a
lot about them” and how “they perceive us.”

“I thought I had a unique opportunity to share with them,” he said, adding that the book is
answering questions for people who need to know simple terms and non-threatening language
around race. “What is really going on with race in our country is historically based, factually
driven but put into context of today.”

Other questions are:

• Why should we care?
• Why should we care to solve this problem?
• What can we do going forward?

“People can acknowledge we have a problem; they have a role to play to solve the problem and
start working through what are we going to do,” he said.

Dear White Friend shares critical lessons in plain-spoken language including:

• How Blacks and Whites have a different contract with America
• How racism constrains economic growth and Black innovation
• The straightforward definition of systemic racism and our only hope to address it
• The critical difference between racial equity and mere equality
• The two “pillars of equity” that are crucial to moving toward equity
• The idea of reparations as a specific means to close the large and growing wealth gap
• Five things specifically White people can do to mend the racial divide and create a path
for true equality
• Why Black entrepreneurship is a “superpower” for making our communities more

The book’s target market includes businesses, individuals, and community leaders.

“The target market is probably two broad groups: My white friends – those who are running a
business; leading organizations involved in civic affairs. Caring about the arts (and the
betterment of) communities.”

He added that the book caters to his Black friends, too.

“Those who have been trying to figure out how to articulate what we have felt forever but
couldn’t put words around,” he said. “Now I hope I put a voice to it that they… share in their
circles with their Black and white friends.”

Gravely earned a BS in Computer Science from Mount Union University, an MBA from Kent
State University, and a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University. He has written eight
business books. He is the father of three adult children and married Chandra (Webb) Gravely. They have one granddaughter.

Dear White Friend is available for purchase now on Amazon and through other major

For more information, visit www.DearWhiteFriend.com.

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