Who knew that when I picked the word “ready” as my mantra for 2020 that fundamentally changing how I see the world and how I choose to speak up for what matters would become a part of it. But then the George Floyd killing happened and I, like many of you, was forced to face the ugly realities that many of our friends and neighbors are experiencing every day. It was heartbreaking and devastating in a way that horrified me to my core. Now, I realize that it’s time for me to stop shielding my eyes and ACT, and I am ready.
That doesn’t mean I’m not scared to speak up – sometimes I am. That doesn’t mean I know all there is to know about systemic racism and my part in it – far from it. But I am ready to learn and listen and act.
In just the past weeks, I have attended six different virtual public meetings/discussions about race in our country. I’ve had in-depth, powerful, and revealing conversations about race with eight very insightful individuals who share very different perspectives than my own. As a result, I have moved to send an email to our entire business contact list sharing my awakening to how my silence and indifference on the topic have contributed to the tolerance and further spread of policies and practices designed to oppress people of color… That’s why now I’m setting aside even more time in my schedule to continue having these uncomfortable conversations about race with anyone who chooses to engage in this uncomfortable topic.
I realize now that even though I’ve always strongly opposed racism in principle, and have had black & brown people in my life as close friends, I haven’t actually done enough to be their ally. But after taking a long, honest look at my actions, I decided I wasn’t going be silent any longer…
Prior to this tectonic shift, with only a handful of exceptions, I’d been taking the easy way out when I was confronted with racist comments or saw wrongful discrimination by remaining silent.
This week, for the first time publicly, I spoke out against behavior by our President that was completely out of alignment with my faith and God’s call for us to love our fellow human beings, to seek justice, love mercy, and humbly walk with God.
I’m no longer willing to look away while centuries of legal ways to oppress black people for the benefit of white prosperity continue to flourish. Reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander has really opened my eyes. The history has been thoroughly researched and documented and I can’t recommend it more. Much of what is in the book is also in a Netflix documentary called 13th that lasts only an hour and forty minutes – I recommend you see it. The film contains footage of our history that is disturbing and painful to watch but must be seen by those of us who have either been able to be oblivious to it or who have deliberately chosen to ignore it before now.
From watching protests to having conversations to learning new information and trying to process it all, these past weeks have been heavy with so much to take in. I write to you now about my experience and my feelings, but this is not about me. It is about committing to use my gifts, experiences, faith, and everything I have to bring change to our system, to encourage others to speak out for the first time or at a new level. We will give those who are hurting and grieving our support and love, hoping they know that we stand in solidarity with them. I pledge to use my voice and my business to promote the value and dignity of every human being and stand against systemic racism and injustice until it is dead.
I know words like mine may be a start in the right direction for some, but they alone are far from enough. I can understand why our neighbors of color may be skeptical of any commitment to breaking the cycle of institutionalized racism. All that can be done as an individual is to prove good faith one action at a time, not only in fighting for change but in building trust among those who are being treated as less than human… I hope you will join me because I am ready.
So what do you say? If you’re ready to learn what it takes to make a difference or start taking action – let’s team-up.
I don’t know what the result will be, or how, but I will do it with God’s help and for the sake of all of God’s children, because everyone deserves justice and humanity.
Each of us was created in God’s own image – this I believe in my heart.
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Yours Out Loud,