Today is #BlackOutTuesday, a day that shouldn’t have to exist yet here we are.
Racism and hate is prevalent in our communities and catalyzed by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis a week ago, the conversation around conscious and unconscious bias towards people of color and other minorities has reached a terrifying and critical peak.
I’ve been struggling with what to say to acknowledge and honor my friends of color – Jared, Lucille, Kelvin, to name a few – because in my privileged mind, my friends are my friends…I don’t consciously think of them as any different but they feel different, they’re treated different. Similar racism exists against others in minority cultures – First Nations people is an example, and while I don’t think of my brother-in-law as someone other than a loved member of my family, he experiences life way differently than I do.
I read an article on the weekend written by a dad who said he didn’t walk around his neighborhood without either his dog or his daughter with him. A strong, intelligent, caring man of color, perfectly capable of protecting himself and with the courage to do so, feels the need to protect himself with symbols of kindness, respectability and family for fear of death.
Yes, fear of death.
In his community where he’s raising his family, contributing to the economy and walking his dog…he fears for his life because of ignorance and racism.
How can hope help eradicate hate?
I have a few ideas but I still have so much to learn.
If you’ve been following my Hope journey over the past couple years, you know that learning and knowledge is one of my core values. I can’t think of a better time to engage my brain than right now. There is so much I, we, don’t know about hate and racism, how deeply seated these feelings and actions are in our cultures, our homes and our communities. I’ve heard it said that we’re born into a culture of racism, like we’re born into the air and take our first breath – we can’t help it, it surrounds us without conscious thought most of the time but, like holding our breath, we can learn to consciously take action to not just be sorry but to also be better.
My friend Jared suggested a couple books that best explain America and how we got to where we are:
Franklin and Washington: The Founding Partnership by William Morrow is one and The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution by Vintage is the other. I’ve started The Quartet and I can’t even begin to tell you what I’ve already learned in just the first few chapters.
Other options are following social media accounts of people spreading real knowledge, not fake news. @trevornoah, @rachelrogers and @theconsciouskid are a few great educators I’m following that are definitely worth checking out. There is so much I don’t know and the best thing I know to do is to learn.
I am a strong believer that compassion has the power to change the world. In his book, Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that there is something wrong with the way we try to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to communicate with strangers, the result is conflict and fear, misunderstanding in “ways that have a profound effect on our lives and the world.”
So stay curious.
Put down your righteous feelings of justice and defense and indignant opinion that you’re right and you know what’s best for everyone. I don’t know what’s best and neither do you. We only know what works for us, what our experiences are, and from that place of experience, we can only speak from a place of our own perception.
Perception that is very likely to be different from the person you’re speaking with so be compassionate. Listen to hear and listen to learn. Don’t defend, validate…our feelings are what our feelings are. Right, wrong, or indifferent…we get to feel what we’re feeling and move through them.
So be present and hold space for others. Have a two-way conversation about what matters and stay curious by asking questions without judgement and listening to hear the answers.
Believe the future will be better than today.
My definition of Hope is that the future will be better than today by taking action over the things we can control.
Three little words that can lead a powerful change. The future will be better than today but we need to take action to move us in that positive direction. Medium has an article called 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice – you could start there. You could also find out what local activism groups are doing in your area and participate in their efforts by giving your time and money if you believe in their actions. You could call up a friend – someone who has experienced racism firsthand and ask them how you can best support them. Ask what actions you can take that would empower and move the needle towards their positive future.
There is so much about racism we can’t control as individuals but there is so much we can do if we each focus on what we can control in our own worlds and take action on the things we can do towards a better future. Action is key – it’s not enough to want to be better, we have to actually be better and only talking about making change isn’t going to actually make change.