About This Episode:
In this episode of “#WalkWithMe” I have an open, honest, difficult, and hopefully enlightening conversation around my three big personal distinctions regarding racism, #BlackLivesMatter and privilege in today’s world.
There has been a lot of conversation lately around racism, #blacklivesmatter and the definition of the word “privilege.” They are all super heavy topics, and I wanted to have an open and transparent conversation around the three big personal distinctions that I have on those topics. I was quiet on this subject for a short while because it’s a hard conversation to have, and I feared judgement if I said the wrong thing.
There’s a lot of emotions around what’s happening in our world today. A lot of people who are very close to me have been involved in the protests and have a strong opinion about the meaning of it all. People have asked me about my opinion, and I’ll be honest: I was hesitant to reply.
I thought: Who am I to have a strong opinion about it?! I’m white, and I’ve never had to go through anything close to racism personally. So, I can’t claim that I know what that feels like or even means.
I was thinking: Why should anybody listen to my perspective? So, I started to unpack that and figure out why I was afraid to publicly comment on this. And, I realized that I might not know what to say. I might say something wrong. I might say something that gets taken the wrong way or that gets a reaction or that gets judged. And that was an interesting realization: I was not sharing my own opinions because I was afraid of being judged.
We live in a time where judgement is like a profession. The media are professionals at judgement. I flip the channels between various news shows, and it feels like propaganda channels with certain motives and agendas. We have professional spin doctors everywhere from the top down. They take a fragment of a video or news and spin it to an outcome – and they’re so good at it. No wonder a lot of us are afraid that something we say will be taken out of context.
Here’s my three big distinctions on what’s been happening in our world today:
#1 – Intention matters more than judgement.
The intention behind the action matters. I believe if we’re going to create long-term change, we need to get to a place where intention is greater than judgement. We need to give people grace and not judge the action people take on a good intention.
#2 – We need to be in pursuit of ‘better’.
Just being ‘not-racist’ isn’t good enough. This isn’t a black-or-white thing (pun intended); it’s a pursuit-of-better thing. And, we can all get better. This is about all of us as humanity getting “better” at becoming more aware, more observant, sharing more perspectives, starting more conversations. It’s about making a commitment to be better.
#3 – Empathy has to win over anger.
I believe everything falls into two buckets: things you can’t control and things you can control. We can control being open to how other people feel about what is going on. It’s about how people feel—and you can’t argue with how people feel. They have a human right to feel however they feel. Empathy is about being able to put yourself in somebody’s shoes emotionally. When you choose to accept that their experience is their experience, it helps you to connect more to people on an emotional level. It means you need to let down your guard and be willing to listen to how people feel about what is going on in, around and through them as people. And I think if we’re willing to hear that, we’ll be less angry and will find ourselves moving closer to the solutions of the issues we’re trying to solve together.
You can’t have change without awareness; however, it doesn’t end with awareness, because that’s only the first step. It needs to lead to a shift in perspective, belief, thought pattern and action, which will lead to a shift in the outcomes we want. We need to be willing to seek intention over judgement. We have to challenge ourselves to be better, together. And, we have to be willing to choose empathy so we can meet people where they are and not get angry at not being where we are.