During the Civil Rights Movement, there was a moment that shined light on the atrocities playing out against Black Americans. The moment? When the movement was televised, America could no longer hide what was happening. White Americans received a wake up call and the alarm was sounded and many answered the call. A lot of time has passed along with laws, but systemic racism and hatred have remained.
We are now at a new moment, a pivotal point in history which has touched the global community. White people and people who have benefitted from presenting as White are waking up again. The question being asked by so many people of color is: how could you sleep through our endless screams? In other words, what’s happening now has been happening all along.
Systemic racism has been in plain sight all along. You did not see it or listen to and believe us when we shared our experiences and our pain.
If you feel convicted you should. Frankly, that’s good as a first step.
It’s what you do next and WHY that will really matter.
What I have been seeing is what I will call the “diversity rush” slightly reminiscent of the stories I’ve read of the California gold rush in the mid 1800’s. There is a rush to learn about racism and how to be an anti-racist, to implement diversity programs, hire diversity speakers, promote people of color as head of diversity, to sponsor town halls, workshops and panels and to have conversations with Black people and other people of color.
That’s a lot in this very short time.
So, let’s go back to that sense of feeling convicted. I’m going to need you to breathe. If you are a POC reading this, come on and breathe too. That sense of conviction needs to lead you somewhere and that is to your true intention for the actions that followed your wake up call.
If your intention is to feel better and lessen the guilt and even shame that you feel about hitting snooze on your wake up call all these years, then you will only be in this diversity work for the short term. This is some hard work which has made some impact, but does not have a good track record for achieving lasting impact in business and at home.
If your intention is to right the wrongs that have been done, though admirable, that will require more than a conversation, a town hall and a few heartfelt posts leading to the unfriending of those who aren’t with you and don’t feel safe with this “new you.” Righting the wrong of systemic racism requires long term planning and action led by POC and helped along by white people who are used to being the dominant culture in charge. That means some long term hard work that shifts the role you have been used to playing and staying conscious for it all.
If your intention is to get and stay conscious to all that you do not know and all that you ignored in order to work alongside others to create systemic change no matter what, then the impact will eventually be felt and be lasting in your home and business.
This is lifetime work, not for the faint at heart or the fearful of reputation or feeling badly about one’s self.
In order to have the kind of impact that changes power and systems and policy and procedures and hearts and minds and language and thoughts and actions and beliefs and vision, the intent must be to live this and work at this as if your very life depends on it just as it does for Black Indigenous People Of Color (BIPOC).
We’re glad you are awake and ready to join with us. Intention is everything, so please check yours. One last thought. If your intention is to reach out to your friend/friends of color, please check your why. We are tired. We are exhausted. We have been fully awake during this endless nightmare and we will never really sleep until it is over. Tread lightly and with care and check your feelings should we choose not to engage.
Ohhhhh but if we do engage…. LISTEN.