Racism: Becoming a Part of the Solution

I want to share what has been on my mind since last Monday when George Floyd was killed, and then witnessing the emergence of unifying protests against racism, as we remember the many black lives that have been lost. While we can appreciate that each individual that has been killed or subject to racism has their own story, unfortunately these situations are not unique. There are recurrent patterns of injustice and inhumanity that we can track throughout our history, to the present day. We again are facing an important opportunity to discuss racism, which occurs on both a systemic and individual level. Due to the injustice that comes from it, and a disregard for human dignity and life, so many lives have been impacted and lost. This has deeply saddened me. 

 

What I share here are my own thoughts, and I am taking this step knowing that I may not express everything “perfectly”. I am processing, listening, and learning in order to grow, myself. I am ready to take responsibility for my contribution to the systemic racism we see, understanding that no matter how much I say that I want to see peace in the world and human life valued and protected, that if I continue to remain in my bubble, in unconscious denial of what exists, and in inaction, I am contributing to the status quo that I find absolutely unacceptable. 

 

Several years ago, or even a year ago, I was not ready to do the hard work of advocacy and activism. I can easily identify all the surface-level reasons I might have previously given for why I didn’t get involved, but it wasn’t because I didn’t care. Now I understand, after deeper reflection, that my reluctance came primarily because there was a part of me that felt guilty for having had thoughts that felt disconnected from what I truly believed. Part of me lacked self-confidence in myself to make a difference. Part of me used the excuse that the problem was too complex, and that I didn’t even know where to start. Part of me didn’t have faith in humanity to ultimately do the right thing. And part of me believed the myth that it would always have to be this way, that these problems were too deeply rooted. So with this lack of belief in self, and lack of belief in humanity, together with the worry about offending others or needing to please others – even if this meant that I remained quiet against the exact thing I wanted to be different — I hoped, but I did nothing. I did not see the power I could have, as one individual, to make a difference. 

 

Now, I am ready to make mistakes and learn. Now I am ready to determine what it is that I want to do, and then do it. Even if I say that I want to see more justice and peace in the world, it means nothing, for me or for others, if I don’t step up and do something about it too. What that will look like as a whole– I am figuring it out. I think that I need to learn more and to listen more before I react, so that I can find out what response I want to give, and how I can be emotionally driven in a conscious way. One thing I know for sure is that as a parent, I want to teach my son about race and racism, and how to be an antiracist. I want to cultivate a community around us of people who are co-committed to the same, so that all of our children can live in a more just world. I want to hold space – no judgment – for those who aren’t there yet, who are still working to get on that path but who want to be there, so that I can guide them, having learned to do that for myself. That is my focus right now. 

 

I deeply believe in treating all of humanity with the respect and dignity that they deserve. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I am ready to confront thoughts and beliefs that I may unconsciously possess or repress, so that during my lifetime I can help to diminish the impact of racism. I believe that systemic racism can end, and perhaps one day in the future, racism will be eliminated altogether.

 

Here are some resources: 

 

Brene Brown’s interview with Ibram X. Kendi

 

Article: “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice”

 

The Conscious Leadership Group’s method to Conscious Activism

 

A document of additional resources that has been widely circulating: Additional Resources