C.ollective O.pen L.istening O.n R.ace
This message in the photo was sent to me via Facebook from a college friend following the 3rd day of tragedy last week after the murder of 5 police officers in Dallas, TX.
I pray this #Mondaymotivation reaches the hearts of the masses to redefine our approach on race relations WITHIN our communities and span of control! We must rest our tired thumbs and actively BE the change we wish to see and often times that change starts with conversation.
This kind and courageous message was received unexpectedly from a white woman that I haven’t seen in over 8 years. (Brief aside: Race is one of the initial identifiers of people. To say we look at people and don’t see their race is a lie and an escape from dealing with the unconscious bias that exist in all of us. We can’t pretend we don’t see race if we’re going to properly address the issues around it. Race is part of who we all are and to deny it in others to make ourselves more comfortable is to selfishly deny a portion of other people’s identity.)
So yes, this kind and courageous white woman sends me this message and I truly appreciated her honest, heartfelt transparency. I also couldn’t agree with her more because I believe there are kind, concerned and peaceful white people out there that are just as disgusted as the black community but just have no idea what to say or how to respond. Heck I’ve felt this way after last week myself. The best anology that I can think of to express the sentiment though, as I shared with my friend, is knowing or having someone express their loved one passed away. Often times in moments like that I don’t know what to say, words fall short, and I feel helpless in trying to express that I fully comprehend their pain and suffering in the time of mourning. However, to express nothing would seem (even though it wouldn’t be accurate) that I’m not concerned, cold and couldn’t care less because I’m not the one grieving. In moments like that I try to acknowledge the person is in pain by offering a kind word and willingness to actively participate in their healing as best I can. That’s the analogy I shared with my friend to say thank you for her acknowledgement, action and willingness to be supportive; I understand the rationale of her natural silence but know that to say nothing is to appear cold, careless and in compliance with the injustice. My advice to her and my advice to all of you is… to openly express acknowledgement and work collaboratively within your communities towards solutions!!!
That’s the first step in any healing is acknowledging there is a problem! Many times because of the “no conversation on religion or politics” rule we use out of “courtesy” to others we miss opportunities to engage in healthy conversation that will aid in growth, mutual understanding and collaborative action towards positive solutions. Within our local communities and sphere of influence we MUST have:
C.OLLECTIVE - NOT just with and for people that look like us! Not blacks meeting with a room full of blacks and whites in their homes with each other. No. We must engage in this conversation TOGETHER. Targeting people of all races to discuss our uncomfortable biases and prejudice.
O.PEN - WE have to be willing to make ourselves as vulnerable as my friend, to say YES I don’t understand; I’ve made mistakes; I think these thoughts but I’m ready and willing to work collectively towards solutions!
L.ISTENING (in love) - THIS IS KEY! It’s a conversation where we should all LISTEN TWICE AS MUCH AS we’re talking. Not for opportunities to point the finger… not be defensive and aggressive, but to truly seek understanding in love one for another. For it is LOVE that will cover a multitude of wrongs and injustice.
O.N R.ACE - as uncomfortable as it may be THIS MUST BE the topic of engagement in order to develop strategies to correct our broken system.
This is what WE CAN DO. EVERY DAY. RIGHT WHERE WE LIVE. to be the change we so desperately need.
Let’s do it! Thanks to my friend for agreeing to share your words with the masses.