Updated: Jun 16, 2020
I don’t know where to begin. I’ve tried writing this several times and none of it feels right. I’d planned some content for social media and my blog and it doesn’t feel appropriate to post any of it at this time. Posting a black picture on #blackouttuesday didn’t feel like enough. The problems we’re facing and the solutions that go with them are far more complex and run far deeper than most of us are aware of.
But I want to do the right thing instead of focusing on doing things right. So I’m interrupting our “regular programming” to talk about this because our regular programming needs to be interrupted for real change to occur.
There’s so much unrest and collective grief weighing heavy on us right now and for good reason. I’ve felt deeply saddened by the murder of George Floyd who is only one among countless other victims who’ve faced the same fate year after year, decade after decade, century after century.
How come we (myself included) haven’t seen or looked at this before? How come we haven’t spoken up about it before? I’m ashamed to be living in a country that calls itself the “Land of the Free” and has still found a way to enslave, incarcerate, disenfranchise and oppress people based on the color of their skin. I’m ashamed to be living in a country whose motto is “United we stand. Divided we fall.” when it has insidiously done things throughout history to keep us divided and to push black people down.
It has been doing this for hundreds of years. As Will Smith pointed out (back in 2016), “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”
I don’t know how to solve this daunting and dispiriting problem. I can’t and won’t pretend like I know the answers. I don’t know or understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of the oppressed. I don’t know what it’s like to constantly have to worry about and consider how the color of your skin affects every choice you make and affects every opportunity you’re given or not given.
What I do know is that we all bleed the same color. We are all Spirit having a human experience. We are all born and we all die. And we’re not born hating anyone for any reason, especially not because of the color of his or her skin. Racism is learned, which means it can be unlearned. I realize this is easier said than done but it is possible.
What I do know is grief. We’re individually and collectively feeling grief on many levels these days. One type of grief that goes unnoticed is disenfranchised grief which is “grief that people experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned”. So it’s basically grief that’s not acknowledged by society.
Yes we’re collectively aware of and grieving for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery most recently. But this is the grief that black people have suffered for centuries in our country. The grief of not being given fair treatment. The grief of not having equal opportunities for education, housing, healthcare and employment. The grief of not having the freedom to live without fear of being judged or criminalized.
Grief needs to first be acknowledged in order to move forward.
A cornerstone of my G.R.A.C.E. Method is to sit with and acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings of grief because the only way through it is through it. So are things highly uncomfortable right now? Yes. Good. Now sit with that. Notice what comes up for you. What feelings? What questions? What insights?
And for what I don’t know, which is a lot, I’m committed to listening and learning to how I can play a part in creating racial equality. If you’re wondering how you can help (and I’m learning as I go here):
1. Start first with yourself. Ask yourself how you may have unconsciously played a role in perpetuating racism even if you don’t consider yourself racist. Consider where in your life you hold judgments, resentments and discrimination of any kind, whether spoken or as a "mere" thought in your mind. The #1 thing that helps me boldly and honestly explore my feelings is journaling. If you don't like to write, you can make a personal video diary or voice record your thoughts and feelings. This is about getting to know yourself to create the springboard from which you can make positive changes. As Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, "Be the change you wish to see in this world".
2. Listen and learn. Educate yourself on the true history of black people and racism, the one that’s not told in our history books in schools. A great place to start is by watching the eye-opening “13th” on Netlix or YouTube (I urge everyone to watch this). Another documentary on the inequitable and startling state of our educational system (of which I had no idea) is "Waiting For Superman" available on Epix or Amazon. You can also check out @thegreatunlearn on Instagram or www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn which offers self-paced syllabi to reeducate yourself and templates to help you address racial inequality at work, at school and in your local school district. Be persistent in uncovering the truth. The more you know, the more you can help. And the way we help will look and be different for each of us—there's no one way that’s right. But it is the right thing to do something.
3. Be proactive. Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Start calling out racism, if you haven’t already, wherever you see it. Start conversations with your friends, family, and strangers alike. To talk with your kids, check out this helpful article from Eluna: https://elunanetwork.org/resources/talking-to-children-about-terrorist-attacks/. Stand up and protest (there are many peaceful protesters out there despite the news media’s main focus on rioting as, sadly, it’s typically “bad news” that gets them higher ratings). Go to www.blacklivesmatter.com to learn more, donate and sign petitions demanding change. Speak up to management at your place of work on how you can support black employees and create initiatives and equal opportunities at your company. Support black-owned businesses.
Notice how I said “start” in all 3 steps. Because this is not an overnight fix. This is just a start. And like I said I don’t know the answers. I’m open to feedback. I’m open to starting a dialogue.
For us to advance as a civilization, we must advance together. Yes all lives matter but right now black lives matter more than anything because they’ve suffered unfair treatment and disadvantages that no human being should ever have to live through. As human beings every single one of us deserves to have our most basic human rights--no man, woman or child should be left behind.
Another cornerstone of my G.R.A.C.E. Method is to turn grief into growth and action, to create something beautiful and meaningful out of our pain. Otherwise we can turn bitter or jaded or never really get over our loss. There is power in transforming pain to purpose. I pray that individually and collectively we can grieve together and enact solutions together, turning this collective disenfranchised grief into something empowering and liberating that will serve our black sisters and brothers (through Spirit we are all one big family). If we cannot elevate our fellow human beings we, ourselves, will never elevate.
If I've offended anyone with this post, please forgive me and please educate me. This comes from my heart and my intention is to help in whatever ways I can. The more we share and discuss with each other, the more we can work towards change so if this post resonates with you, please share it.