June 24, 2020
What a year! So far.
Over four months ago, the Corona Virus infected a few. And it spread.
Over four hundred years ago, racism infected a few in the would-be USA. And it spread.
Nearly four years ago, my friend Mike Parker West shared this image with me:
And I’m hoping that it, too, will spread.
With racism as prevalent today as it ever was, the fight for justice, freedom, and equity for all rages on.
Two sides appear to have emerged: you are either in favor of racism or you are so vehemently opposed to racism that you are an outspoken anti-racist. There is no middle ground.
As an anti-racist, you are intentional. Your actions not only speak louder than your words, they justify your words. Your actions justify who you are and what you believe in your heart.
Because actions are so powerful, it’s natural to want to be seen in action.
Therefore, many white people [like me] have been asking themselves:
I’m definitely NOT a racist. So… what can I… DO?
After all, I want to help. I want to be a part of the solution. I want to make the world a better place. And I want it NOW!
If we’re being honest, I’ve felt that way many times in the past.
Yet, every time I’ve gone to post the black square, keep the anti-racist chain letter going, or copy-and-paste-and-tag-five-friends in a social media post to tell the world that Today I commit to being an anti-racist, for example, this image came to mind. Every single time. In fact, I’ve thought about this image every day since I first saw it. I find it very powerful.
Here it is again. Take another look:
Like you, perhaps, my eyes were immediately drawn to the line from Awareness to Action.
Yet, when I pause to zoom out, I see that there’s a lot more going on here. There’s a much, much bigger picture.
While everything about this cycle is unique to the individual, here are…
Three Ways This Image Impacts Me
1–SLOW DOWN. Before jumping into action, it’s okay to pause. In fact, it’s often recommended to check myself, first. If I’m not where everyone else is–all the time–that’s okay. It’s okay to take the path at my own pace rather than to rush into something without facts and perspective. In fact, it’s even more meaningful to personalize my path, to make it mine, and to own it, for better and for worse. And it may be more authentic to learn and grow in the manner most appropriate for me, albeit acknowledging my privilege to do so all along the way. Yet just to keep moving forward…
2–History Matters. The more I do Information Gathering about history, the more my Analysis of the present and future changes. Those two parts of the cycle are so powerful to me, and, really, it’s where I find myself much of the time. Simply put, the more I know, the more I grow. For example, embracing the historical context that the USA was built by white men for white men [like me] to succeed implores me to acknowledge my white privilege. Without an historical perspective, the phrase white privilege doesn’t mean the same thing to me or have the same impact on me.
3–It’s a Journey. Rushing from Awareness to Action may be, in a sense, redlining the opportunities to thoroughly invest in the real estate that matters the most–the mind and the heart. After all, it’s in the Information Gathering, Analysis, and Vision/Planning where research leads to thoughts, thoughts lead to feelings, and feelings… eventually… lead to Action. Therefore, while I’m Aware that quick gestures and gimmicks may be well-intended Action to undo centuries of systemic racism, it takes more than a social media post, a blog post, a book, a workshop, a conversation, or even professional development to move a mountain.
It takes faith. It takes heart work. It takes time.
I appreciate the energy but sometimes our emotion will cause us to jump from Awareness to Action without taking some important steps in between. I support protest and dismantling oppressive systems, and let's also be intentional and strategic as we move forward. pic.twitter.com/NUnjNzTPzU
— Ryan T. Williams (@AP_RyanWilliams) June 3, 2020
"None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual antiracist practices" (DiAngelo, 2018, p. 5). #whitefragility 2/2
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) June 4, 2020
"Everyone has capacity to change, to be anti-racist, to grow. What distinguishes humans from other beings? Capacity for self awareness and growth." @DrIbram "If you're not learning and growing, which can be painful–stretch marks, bruises–you're dying." @BreneBrown #UnlockingUs
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) June 14, 2020