Last week in two separate conversations, a family member and a friend asked if I was working on a post about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. I think that they both thought because I write a blog and because I live in Minnesota, the epicenter of the latest tragedy and protests, I might have some hot take to share with my readers. I also think they both were surprised to hear I hadn’t even considered it.
Look, you shouldn’t need my blog to tell you why you shouldn’t be a racist.
You also shouldn’t need my blog to tell you that even if you think you’re not, most of us perpetuate stereotypes and micro aggressions unconsciously.
I’ve linked Project Implicit before, but now would be a great time to explore it further…particularly its assessments about race and perception.
If you needed to hear those things from me, there you go! But the reason I haven’t written anything about Black Lives Matter or George Floyd, and the reason I hope you move on from this post into something else entirely, is because I’m not the person you should be listening to talk about this right now.
It’s a natural tendency to want to be on the right side of issues and to want to vocalize those positions so that people KNOW we’re on the right side of issues. I’ve seen a lot of friends on social media lately post in response to attending a protest some sentiment like, “Wanted to be able to tell my future kids what side of the fight we stood for!”
That’s great. I’m glad that you’re standing with social and racial justice. But here’s the ultimate, uncomfy question:
What were you doing three weeks ago before George Floyd became an international lightning rod?
What could you have told your future children you were ACTIVELY doing last month or last year to fight for the same social and racial justice that you’re taking to the streets for now.
Listen, I believe in the power of protest, and I’m greatly moved by the masses of people in the streets. But showing up in a moment with a handmade sign, does not make you an advocate. It makes you a participant. Changing your social media profile picture to a black square isn’t the real work of creating racial justice. It just lets others know that you’re on the right side.
There are real advocates out there, advocates that have worked behind the scenes tirelessly for weeks, months, and years before George Floyd’s death touched off global demonstrations. These are the people whose voices we need to amplify in this moment!
Active listening should help us define a response that is meaningful, helpful, sustainable, and ultimately moves us towards true change, instead of participating in a moment and then returning to our comfortable norms.
And I don’t mean “us” in the collective societal sense. I mean “us” in the sense of those of us who live with privilege we don’t perceive (or maybe we do!), and are now on the clock to make a real, systemic, and intentional sea change within our own attitudes and behaviors.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a couple places and pieces that have been eye opening to me:
Higher Learning Podcast
Pod Save the People Podcast
And social media follows: @tamikadmallory, @osopepatrisse, @janayathefuture, @sholamos1, @celisiastanton
I can only aspire to one day have put in the real time and effort to call myself an advocate. In the meantime, I hope you’ll explore some of the conversations that are happening with the people whose voices are finally rising to the top.
They deserve your attention!