Over the last few weeks I’ve been listening, learning, unlearning and hurting. I’ve received messages of kindness and mutual support, as well as messages telling me to “stay in my lane.” I truly admire the people who are taking the time to stop and ask the hard questions, who are willing to stand up for others and look within themselves to see how they can be a part of much needed and positive change. As for myself and our family, we are taking an active role in being antiracist. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the resources that I’ve been learning from, as well as some of my thoughts.
- The reason I started my channel/blog is because I care DEEPLY about people. While I will never understand what it’s like to experience racism as a black person, I do know that racism is WRONG, and NO ONE should ever be treated that way. So, if you’re asking me to stay in my lane, I will counter that this is my lane. And it’s your lane too – we are one human race.
- Systemic racism is an undeniable and inexcusable issue that has plagued our country for FAR too long. It was never okay, and it’s still not okay. This isn’t a political argument, this is basic human rights. This fact doesn’t mean that you didn’t work hard to get to where you are, or that you had an easy life. What it means is that systemically, black people (POC) are discriminated against due to the color of their skin. (Less opportunities, less pay, horrific treatment, red-lined and underfunded schools…the list goes on and on, but needless to say this is wrong.)
- Even if you aren’t racist, we all have biases. This is an uncomfortable and vulnerable truth that I’ve realized. The first step in working on biases is recognizing they are there (and yes, this part isn’t pretty or comfortable). Recognizing this isn’t intended to cause shame; instead use this knowledge to educate yourself and work on unpacking how and why these biases came to be. Once we recognize and understand, we can grow and change.
- Saying “Black lives matter” doesn’t mean that your life doesn’t matter. Of course all lives matter. After the bombing of the Boston Marathon, many people changed their profile pictures to #BostonStrong. I can’t recall seeing a single counter of “all cities are strong!” When a particular group is being disproportionately discounted/harmed/marginalized, it makes sense that we, as a community, would rally for that group and bring much-needed attention to their treatment. I think it’s important to realize that supporting a global movement doesn’t take away from how special and valuable you or other groups are. In fact, I think caring about issues outside of yourself will stretch you in ways that will expand your mind and outlook. It will reveal greater empathy, compassion, connection and love. We need to join hands and fight for each other in our times of need.
- Talk to your friends, your kids and your family. These conversations won’t always be easy, in fact they rarely are. There are often long-held and unconscious opinions and biases. I’ve found that the easiest way to keep the dialogue open is by saying things like “It’s interesting that you mention that; I’ve recently learned xyz” or “I just listened to a podcast that spoke about that very topic.” When we approach anyone with shame or lecturing, the conversation often shuts down and growth is near impossible. Many people are most willing to be open and vulnerable when approached with compassion, grace, and a shame-free conversation.
- One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that this is an imperfect journey. I will make missteps along the way, and it’s critical that we don’t let our defensiveness or worry about being perfect paralyze us from making continued efforts to be antiracist, and to actively fight for true equality for everyone. I still have a lot to learn, but standing up and speaking out is so important. Don’t let fear of saying exactly the right thing hold you back from speaking up at all.
- While we won’t all agree on every line item of how to facilitate this change, this isn’t an all or nothing movement. I’ve seen several people mention having issues with specific organizations, but it’s important to know that this is a global movement, not linked to only one organization. This movement is about standing up and speaking out against inequality and racism. I encourage everyone to continue listening and learning. Growth rarely happens in our comfort zones. Be brave, and stay open.
Black lives matter.
Here are a few ways you can help.
Donate time or money
Talk to your friends/family
Educate yourself. Below are some resources that I’ve been learning from that I’d like to share with you.
Books for kids
The resources below were gathered by the DC chapter of Women in Healthcare:
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide | Carole Anderson, Ph.D.
The Fight to Preserve African American History | Casey Cep
The Case for Reparations | Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talking About Race | NMAAHC
1619 Project | New York Times
13th | Ava DuVernay
The Central Park Five | Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon
The Big Picture: Understanding Systematic Racism | New York Times
Just Mercy | Destin Daniel Cretton
Black Lives Matter Official Website | Black Lives Matter
African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund | National Trust for Historic Preservation
B.R.A.V.E. Initiative | NOMA
Racial Equity in D.C. | D.C. Policy Center
Image credit: @tobehonestnl
Lots of love,