If now is not the time to speak, I don’t know what is.
If now is not the time to speak, I don’t know what is.
My friends, I am tagged in the post shared below by, Judy Brown-Steele, a woman I highly respect and have worked closely with.
I invite and urge you to read this full post and then read all the comments, including mine.
This work for me waking up to systemic racist ideas we all have been born into and live amongst hit me square in eyes in 2016 whenthe deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling affected me deeply. Unlike any other notable happening in the world ever had. I was lucky enough to be able to talk with my best friend who has spent her whole career advocating for minorities, and in my pain I finally was able to really wake up to my own privilege.
In the face of the violence and injustice happening in the world then, I felt compelled to speak out.
But I didn’t.
I felt a deep calling to speak out and I didn’t, my reasoning then that I wasn’t informed enough to participate in “divisive” conversations. I even recorded a video then that I never posted because I was afraid. Because I was afraid of conflict. Afraid of how it might affect my business. Afraid of what others would think.
I receded into the privileged safety of saying nothing.
It felt weak and shameful and wrong that I got to just go forward in the safety of that silence.
I committed then to start LEARNING.. really educating myself. Doing the work to inform myself so I could positively and powerfully use my voice.
It still took me two more YEARS to first write about race, equity and privilege in a public forum in 2018.
In the meantime, I was having many offline conversations to continue integrating and sharing what I was learning. Sometimes those conversations were beautiful breakthroughs, other times I screwed it up completely and ended up in the next shame storm that also led to the next level of learning and healing.
Plan on this messiness. Keep going anyway.
For the record, this is not commentary on cops, I know and love a ton of INCREDIBLE police officers that take their job of keeping us ALL safe very seriously and I respect the hell out of them for taking on that role in our society. I can only imagine that life too.
No, this post is about deep-seated racist ideas that show up in every area of our society and lives. This post is a call for us all to reflect and look to see where we may be enjoying a safer more peaceful life because of the color of our skin or judging or fearing others because of the color of theirs.
Now it’s 2020, I’ve been learning for 4 years, doing deep work of my own to dig up darkness, and if now isn’t the time to speak, I don’t know what is.
With that, I genuinely encourage anyone feeling that similar heartache, similar uncertainty, and similar calling in themselves now.. if you are interested in learning more to DO IT.. START NOW.
Read Judy’s post below.
Then read my comment also below where I share what I recommend first and most as a starting point for anyone looking to learn more, which is a huge first step to being a part of the bigger solution.
In my experience, this work is a messy, painful and absolutely imperfect road, but infinitely better feeling like you are doing what you can to be on the right side of history as a champion for all people.
For friends who understand that “Rioting is the voice of the unheard.” -Dr. King and that the riots aren’t about a Target but about George Floyd’s merciless murder and the luxury the murderes have being at home with their families and not arrested- Pull Up. Here are some things you can do now and the next time this happens. BECAUSE IT WILL! Unfortunately.
1. Talk about it with your white friends and families. At your kitchen table! People of color have these conversations early and frequently. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s nowhere as uncomfortable as not feeling safe when you’re outside of your house for just existing.
1A. Notice who cares to talk and learn about it and who thinks it’s not their problem. Believe people who tell you who they are the first time.
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Please. Please. Please. Please. Pleaseeeeee! It is not the responsibility of black people to tell you what’s going on in the world and to explain the trauma over and over again. We have access to the same info you do.
3. We appreciate the posts and hashtags, but it needs to go beyond that. Find ways that you can support the progressive moment of uplifting and supporting equality and equity.
5. Donate to places that know more than you and are doing more than you are. IE. Find your local NAACP chapter. Yes, there are local chapters. Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund which is fighting to pay bail for those arrested.
6. Most people say they are an ally, but they have never been challenged in their allyship. And you probably won’t. You need to challenge yourself. AND EACH OTHER!!
I’m tagging a bunch of people who say they are an ally. So show me what you are ACTIVELY doing to fight white supremacy and support your friends who are of color. I don’t need to know, but do something because people are dying and your apathy is not helping. You must be Anti-Racist.
Also- this post is NOT for likes or to trend. I’m really asking- WHAT ARE YOU DOING??￼
PS- the people who say nothing…I see you.
MY COMMENT ANSWERING JUDY’S QUESTION:
1-6, but certainly in no way perfectly. I can say most definitely say that “white silence” was one of the many privileges I have historically leaned on both unconsciously and still justified consciously for way too long to stay “safe” from conflict.. I’m challenging myself to speak more.. continuing to illuminate where that old default pattern to avoid and stay silent tries to lead.
White friends who want to learn more, I highly recommend readingWhite Fragility, Stamped from the Beginning, How to be an Antiracist and doing the work outlined in Me and White Supremacy. Among many others. Leaning into conversations with white friends has been a big part of the work in my experience and expanding the work to others we know. Doing the work to learn and show up in real conversations in that learning has helped me get to the point where I felt even remotely capable in other ways. I had to accept that it was going to feel scary and be messy and imperfect and do it anyway. And continue to, until we live in a world where everyone can feel safe and be championed by the communities and systems we live in.
Shaun King. YES. So much boot-on-the-ground action here and opportunities to donate.
Judy, I will follow and start learning from the others you noted as well.
Drop me a line if you’re feeling called to help in some way but feel scared too and don’t know where to begin.