On Saturday night, I mulled over a long list of options.
Almost an entire yellow legal pad (double sided) of notes and copious slices of sourdough dripping in raspberry jam later (I’m an emotional eater. Surprise!), I boiled down my actions to a short list of next steps.
It’s not everything. And it’s not where the work ends. But it is a beginning.
THE INNER WORK
- Listening – you can’t understand what you won’t hear. Defend less. Listen more.
- Watching – history has been captured on film. Watch, especially when it feels uncomfortable.
- Reading – allow the voices of the oppressed and informed to pervade your grey matter in order to learn.
- Reflecting – on your behavior, habits and biases. They exist (even in a non-white person, like me).
- Journaling – dump your feelings, guilt, rage, sorrow, confusion, righteousness, shame all of it onto the page instead of the shoulders of the already burdened. C’mon.
- Understanding – yourself. them. us. we. Because the time for change is now. Actually…it’s long overdue.
- Forgiving – your privilege. your heritage. your ignorance. And then, get to work!
THE OUTER WORK
- Amplifying – the voices of those that want, need and deserve to be heard.
- Supporting – people that are tired of being disenfranchised.
- Applying – new behaviors. new practices. new understanding.
- Allying – because defensiveness, ego, the need to be right, the need to have the final word, getting it perfect, the need for a pat on the head, are behaviors that demonstrate how much (or how little) you’ve committed to the inner work.
Outer work without ALSO doing the inner work is hollow. Because it’s the stuff rooting around on the inside – our values, our beliefs, our understanding – that make us true allies.
#BlackOutTuesday may be over but the work needed (if we believe that #BlackLivesMatter) has just begun. And this? Well, it’s a mere fraction of what’s needed – but it’s a damned good place to zoom in on.