Processing the horrors of racism, acknowledging my privilege and embracing the historic Black Lives Matter movement.
I’ve been avoiding this post because if I’m being honest, I’m still trying to find the words. Also let's be clear, talking about race and racism is uncomfortable and it isn't something I have too much experience with. A privilege that I can acknowledge. As a hyper-sensitive person with empathy, my initial reaction and coping response would be to just hide under the covers and cry. However, I realize now is the time where I need to be vocal more than ever.
My whole life I’ve been subconsciously abusing my privilege and I've benefitted from a broken system. I’m ashamed and embarrassed that it took me this long to “wake up" and felt an immense need to do something in order to make up for lost time. So, where to start? All of a sudden I am inundated with information and action items. I did some research, found a ton of conflicting advice (post the black square vs. don't post the black square or read "White Fragility" vs. don't read "White Fragility) However, I decided that even if I do something wrong, it's better to show up imperfectly and at least try than to stay silent, stand idly by and do nothing.
Therefore, I’ve been looking inward. I’ve been listening to voices of the Black community and holding space for their pain. Replaying memories of things that I've done or said in the past with good intentions that could have actually been offensive. Looking back at my childhood and memories of things I've witnessed and watched but never said anything about. I’ve been educating myself and trying to un-learn things that have been taught to me regarding race and white supremacy. I've confronted my own complacent behaviors and though I'm not proud of it, I am aware of it now and I want to change in order to help others and to help this world become a better place. No more turning a blind-eye to injustice.
"If I am going to start using this platform again, I need the foundation of it to be aligned with what's right and with what I believe in. I believe in doing all things with love, inclusivity and justice. Let it be known that if it isn't already abundantly clear, that #BlackLivesMatter. ALL Black Lives Matter. I will continue to say this until it no longer needs to be said."
I am not Black, so I have asked myself many times why I even felt the need to write this post when this isn't about me. Is it because I'm so afraid that people will think I'm racist if I don't post about it? Am I trying to prove something to myself? To the Black community? Sure, I care what people think since I'm a natural-born people pleaser but the answer to these questions all come back to my values. If I am going to start using this platform again, I need the foundation of it to be aligned with what's right and with what I believe in. I believe in doing all things with love, inclusivity and justice. Let it be known that if it isn't already abundantly clear, that #BlackLivesMatter. ALL Black Lives Matter. I will continue to say this until it no longer needs to be said. Black lives matter so incredibly much and it hurts my heart and soul that people can be so ignorant and cruel to someone based on their skin color. I'm very naive.
This is the largest civil rights movement in history and although many horrible things have happened I want to remember this time. A time when things got so chaotic and when people refused to be complacent so much so that maybe things will actually change.
I never considered myself racist but I certainly know that I can do better. In my journey of moving from non-racist to being vocally anti-racist, I hope whoever is reading this can join me in looking inward and by continuing to show up even though mainstream media has moved on. Breonna Taylor has still not received justice. Neither has Jacob Blake. I know this internal work is ugly, messy and painful but it’s absolutely necessary if we’re going to move forward as a society that values equal rights and justice for all. We must create a new and better world for the next generations to come.
Photo from the LGBTQ+ March for Black Lives Matter in West Hollywood on June 3rd, 2020
Right now taking care of ourselves is of utmost importance so that we can be in this for the long haul. I have found that doing three small things a week (I prefer Monday/Wednesday/Friday) to further the #BlackLivesMatter movement works a lot better for me than going down rabbit holes on social media, getting overwhelmed and eventually burning out. I even make a log of the things I do and materials I read to hold myself accountable. If I happen to miss a day, which I acknowledge is absolute privilege, I try to do more than one action next time. Different things work for different people and I encourage you to keep trying different things if something isn't working for you but please do not give up.
I’m definitely the last person who ever thought I would be involved politically and I realize this is privilege in and of itself. My lack of political activism hasn't been because I don’t care, it's because I’ve identified more so with being Spiritual. I now realize how much the two go hand and hand. Though it’s been a challenging but worthwhile struggle, I am still learning to find my own voice. Navigating how to speak up for myself and now speak up for others is a refined skill I’m going to need to learn and practice. But that’s what ally-ship is, practice. Ally-ship is also earned. It’s not something that’s learned overnight. So I’m being patient with myself as I’m building new lifestyle habits and enrolling myself in school to catch up.
Street art from Black Lives Matter protests on Abbott Kinney poignantly sharing George Floyd's last words.
Don't Give Up, Keep Your Foot on the Gas. This is a Marathon, not a Sprint.
"I accept that I’m going to mess up and let me tell you I’ve messed up already but I certainly have learned from it. We grow from our mistakes, we are humbled by our mistakes and we should never be paralyzed from the fear of making them."
I try not to get so overwhelmed that I freeze and stop doing the work completely. I accept that I’m going to mess up and let me tell you I’ve messed up already but I certainly have learned from it. We grow from our mistakes, were humbled by our mistakes and we should never be paralyzed from the fear of making them. I should take my own advice because this is something I always seem to be actively working on. Trust the process.
We are lucky to live in an age where resources are infinite and it's easier to help now than ever. I wanted to share the voices and mediums of how I've been educating myself and the resources I've been using. These are the lists, videos, and voices I've discovered through the "Amplify Melanated Voices" challenge and through researching how to help with the Black Lives Matter movement. However, if you have other resources or suggestions, PLEASE do share. Also, an important thing to remember when checking in on your Black friends and loved ones is that they are completely and utterly exhausted and traumatized. Asking questions like "How are you?" or "How are you holding up?" pose very complex answers and are very triggering. Instead, try something like "No response needed, just reaching out to you to let you know I'm here if you need anything." The best way we can help is to continue to educate ourselves, listen and take action.
ULTIMATE RESOURCE LISTS:
Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein's document of resources: HERE
Good Good Good's adaptation of that list: HERE (in case there is any trouble opening the previous document)
Black Lives Matter Resources: HERE
Justice for George Floyd: HERE
Justice for Ahmaud Arbery: HERE
Justice for Jacob Blake: HERE
Yale is offering a free online "African American Studies" course. However, there are also many articles, documents and books listed in the above resource lists.
These are some of the voices I discovered, listened to and learned from during the "Amplify Melanted Voices Challenge". Included are also important and informative organizations to follow.
POWERFUL IG TV VIDEOS TO WATCH:
SUPPORT BLACK OWNED BUSINESSES:
@inthistogether_la (For those living in Los Angeles)