There is no denying that 2020 has brought change. In more ways than we can count. These past few weeks specifically have sparked many ‘aha-moments’ for all of us, some that we didn’t know we needed. We are collectively experiencing anger, guilt, shame, hopelessness and confusion.
My challenge to us all: Don’t tune out. Lean in.
To my black brothers and sisters, I understand that even as a bi-racial, middle eastern American woman, I will never truly understand. However, I stand with you, mourn with you and I will continue to fight for you.
When we are struck deeply by something, whether it is social injustice or environmental crises, I truly believe that we must take time to be with ourselves. Be with our thoughts. Go within and ask ourselves if our actions actually align with our values. Engage in shadow work. The waves of change start within.
What we can do — what we must do — is recognize truth, actively listen and seek out resources to expand our understanding, take responsibility for our role (conscious or unconscious) in the larger picture and fight for those who can’t fight alone any longer.
Not all advocacy is done publicly and allyship is a lifelong commitment of learning and unlearning. We cannot solve systemic racism (or anything else we’re facing globally) overnight. We cannot inundate ourselves with so much information that we are paralyzed. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
We have work to do, yes.
But don’t allow overwhelm to halt your action.
Instead, we must pace ourselves for the long haul because information paralysis is real. Also, we must take time to check in and care for ourselves, to rest our minds and to integrate what we’re learning. Step away from the news if you need but please don’t tune out entirely.
We must take time to sit with the pain and anger we’re feeling in solidarity with black women and men and the entire BIPOC community. Let it fuel our desire to help, to advocate for, to speak up, to vote and use our voices not just today but for months and years to come.
In what feels like all-consuming darkness, for many this is a long-overdue awakening — of pain and truth and systemic corruption – being brought to light so that we can address it and heal. The metaphor that keeps surfacing in my mind is a wound. A wound that is deep and bleeding. A wound that is in need of attention yet we cover it and choose to not look at it. By the Black Lives Matter movement bringing our awareness to this deep wound, we have opened it up to the sunlight and can see every inch of it. It’s painful and uncomfortable to examine and cleanse the wound but bringing it into the sunlight is the only way to heal.
I resonated with the words of Olivia Lopez:
“There’s symbolism in numbers. Optically, 20/20 indicates perfect vision: seeing with sharpness and clarity. By stripping away daily distractions, overlooked injustices are brought to the forefront. What’s clear is that 2020 is the year where radical change is the only essential step to move forward.
Intention is defined as: a mental state and commitment to carry out actions into the future.
A second definition: the healing process of a wound.
By reframing 2020 as the year of intention, we consciously commit to a time for radical transformation.
This is the year we heal, reframe and unlearn our biases. They year we challenge and change the status quo.”
This year has brought something new each week, it’s shaken us to our core and we are all trying to adapt. It feels like we can’t handle anymore but in all seriousness, as a modern society we have been wading in the shallows and lacking understanding and depth for a long time.
Within the past few weeks, I have unpacked what feels like decades of knowledge and trauma. As a woman of color, I am waking up to my internalized racism and also my own unconscious biases, waking up to what I didn’t learn growing up about the Black community and mass incarceration, as well as ways in which I have benefitted from this system of oppression by being “white passing.” I have a lot of learning to do and I am willing to share my transformation with you so that we can grow together.
So how do we move forward? How do we integrate?
This is something I have thought about, communicated with peers and mentors about, and have helped clients navigate during these past few weeks. I am a lifelong student and communicate this often. I am committed to continually learning and integrating what I learn into my practices as a business owner, an educator, a consumer and a human. I hope you’ll join me in this.
EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO ACTION.
I’ve shared my Awake, Aware, Activated framework before and I believe this applies to anything in our life. Once we are woken up to the reality of something, we have to take time to analyze and engage in learning before we can take action towards sustainable change. So that’s where I’m starting. Films, books, podcasts, stories and information shared by the BIPOC community. The information will inform and shape continued action. I don’t have all the answers and this will be an imperfect journey, but it’s a journey worth taking none the less.
RESOURCES I HAVE FOUND IMPACTFUL:
So You Want To Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo
Also, there has been so much shared on social media which has helped me rewire and open my eyes. I have shared a highlight of information that I found helpful if you want to start there.
ACTION I’M CURRENTLY TAKING / RECOMMEND:
ACTIVELY EDUCATING OURSELVES
Actively educating ourselves, specifically through the lens of the black community. As I shared, education is the foundation on which change is created. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch films, take courses, engage in live streams. I hope the resources I’ve shared above serve you but there are SO MANY MORE. Start where you feel called. Be open to the information that is being shared and find ways to integrate what you’re learning into your business and into your life.
Support black educators, authors, artists and businesses. Remember, we vote with our dollars.
HOLDING BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS ACCOUNTABLE
If you’ve witnessed my journey towards regenerative living, you will know the strict requirements we hold for our partners to ensure that their values are in alignment with ours. Through what I’ve learned this week about systemic racism, racial injustice and prison labor, this list of requirements just got longer. My goal is to continue working with companies that are for the planet and for all people who inhabit it, including the BIPOC community around the world. This means that the brands we will continue to partner with are either black-owned or that their organization is anti-racist and that they partner with other BIPOC creators. If they do not have public-facing information about all of the above, we will inquire about their practices. Our goal has become over the past few years to work with less brands, more often and to build deep relationships with our partners so we are absolutely willing to open discourse about this and to partner with brands that are transparent, diverse, inclusive and dedicated to intersectional environmentalism.
EXPANDING MY SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
As a lifelong student, I like to surround myself with people who are more educated and emotionally intelligent than I am. This practice constantly brings ‘aha-moments’ into my life and calls me deeper. Over the past few years, I have been very mindful to expand my sphere of influence to include people from various backgrounds and walks of life but the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged me to expand my sphere even wider.
If you haven’t done this, I highly recommend doing it right now. Start by assessing who you are following online and why. This is one of the only ways we can ‘control’ the media we consume and have it shape our experience to be one of growth. Follow people who don’t look like you, who have a different perspective than you, who share your common interests so you can learn about things that interest you (i.e. environmentalism, sustainable living, gardening, cooking, etc) through a different lens. Leave the echo chamber. Listen to and support leaders in the BIPOC community.
TAKING ACTION PERSONALLY
Taking tangible action: VOTING, signing petitions, calling lawmakers, consistently donating and/or volunteering for organizations. I always advocate for how the action of one can seem like it’s ‘not much’ but the collective action of many is a revolution – we must continue to take action together.
Stay updated. Stay informed. Stay engaged. Even if we are tired. Rest but don’t quit.
The Black community has endured MUCH more for much longer.
My hope is that you’re with me on this journey of education, self-reflection and showing up. This is a lifelong commitment to allyship and one that I’ve been aligned with for my entire life but haven’t been vocal enough about. That’s changing and I am learning. This has no expiration date but instead this is a deeper dive into my values in action. We can’t change the past but we will change the future.
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