I wasn’t sure what form this message would take. It didn’t feel right to record an episode this week. Hell, even starting this email is awkward but sometimes living in the discomfort is what we need to grow.
Are you uncomfortable? Good. I am too.
I appreciate you giving me the space to share this with you - on a weekend, nonetheless. I know it's a long email but I'm hoping it can inspire you to think about where you, in specific, can help continue the momentum of the past week+ through sustainable, long-term action.
We can’t allow this to burn out.
I don’t need to bring to your awareness what happened to George Floyd on May 25th, the long list of names that have come before, and the uprising that has happened the past week.
The ongoing overt and covert displays of racism embedded in our society is heartbreaking and we’re experiencing what could (needs to) be a huge turning point for education, hard conversations, police accountability, personal accountability and deep deep change.
Not just between people, but with the “systems” and politics we have in place as well.
I don’t have all the answers and I'm not an educator in the space, I’m trying to learn just like many of you.
This week a black woman - a neighbor - posted something that made me pause.
She said she’s never experienced more kindness while walking down the street than she has the past few days. People were smiling at her, waving at her, making it a point to help her feel noticed and appreciated. She thought this was great, but then she said,
“Unless this is how you’re gonna be forever please keep that fake energy to yourself. Honestly I would appreciate people asking me hard questions. Take a real interest in me and my people. And also telling me what you come from and why you want to learn.”
She's completely right. We need to continue pushing for and really live the change we want to see.
I’ve been largely quiet the past few days. I started thinking about how we can maintain this energy so fundamental change continues to happen and it doesn’t just become another blip on the radar.
During #BlackOutTuesday I shared a number of things I was learning, information on how to keep yourself safe as a protester, and organizations I’ve donated money to in hopes of encouraging others to do the same. Spotlighting black business owners.
It didn’t feel like I was doing enough.
I’ve been having conversations with friends and acquaintance the past few days and some of the feelings have also been “I want to help, but I don’t know how. It’s overwhelming. I don’t feel like what I’m doing is enough.”
I think it's impossible to not reflect on our own actions and accountability right now and wonder,
“Have I done enough? Have I been a shitty ally without realizing it? Where have I failed others? Do I have underlying biases I wasn’t aware of? Have I been avoiding hard conversations because they’re uncomfortable? Have I been enabling others by not speaking up?" And a million other things.
I know PermissionLESS has an amazing group of people in its community so I wanted to pose this question to you:
Where can you start making a difference in your lane that’s truly sustainable, no matter how big or small?
Understanding that for yourself is one of the ways we can keep this energy going and continue to chip away at the walls of the fortress that needs to fall.
This is an interesting framework from Deep Iyer that might inspire some ways to help depending on your strengths and natural talents:
Consider how you can best support change moving forward and what your role can be in the social change ecosystem.
Don’t let the paralysis of not being able to help in every lane prevent you from making change in the lane you’re most capable in, no matter how big or small it might feel.
Maybe that's donating to organizations, being on the ground protesting, providing things to help protesters (snacks, water, medical supplies) and supporting businesses that are diverse and black owned.
Maybe it's politically active, signing petitions and using your vote to support those who are working to create change around civil rights, equality, law enforcement and other areas of importance… the list goes on.
If you own a business, that might be taking a look at your hiring practices (or how your recruiter is looking for candidates) and making sure there’s no inherent bias/discrimination/prejudice in how you find your talent. Actively work on diversity and opportunity. Consider mentoring young people who are interested in building a business or doing what you do.
If you’re in the entertainment industry look at your projects, casting process, crew, acquisition process and everything else through a whole new lens. Challenge the assumption that a particular character needs to be white.
Black talent who are extraordinarily gifted get overlooked because of the old ways in which the entertainment industry tends to operate and the eyes in which they see through.
If you’re an artist, storyteller or creator, use your platform and your reach to create conversations through your medium because storytelling is the way to people’s hearts and minds.
As a consumer, look at who you’re buying from. You’d be surprised at how many businesses you may be giving your money to that are run by people who are part of the problem - people who are using their money to fund organizations and people that actively fight against the change we’re seeking.
Do you wanna support racist people and businesses? I sure as hell don’t.
If you haven’t been active in any type of area like this before, it could be helpful to start learning more about the political system, what the budget looks like for your local police and where it goes, how budgets are used in your city / state in general, what bills are potentially being passed, who the people are that make up your local government, and so on.
Try not to let the fear of not being sure how to use your voice prevent you from speaking up and having conversations. It's scary af, but you got this. [I've been working on this email for a few days now because of the fear that I won't express my point thoughts correctly, so trust me, I feel you.]
Use your gifts and privileges to be a change agent.
That’s how we can sustain this energy and create change in the long-run.
Please don’t let the momentum die.
I've been thinking through what this might look like for me and wanted to share it with you. My hope is it may take away some of the overwhelm by seeing how I'm approaching it, and encourage you to think about what this could look like for you with your gifts, experience and situation.
Outside of donating to organization and supporting those in politics that can help fight for change, my core focus is likely going to be in the areas of,
Creating more opportunity in entertainment/media for black talent through my own projects and supporting those pushing for industry change.
Supporting black business owners and creators (current and aspiring) through mentorship/consulting/coaching and patronage.
Learning more about the businesses I’m giving my money to in terms of diversity, what organizations they support, etc.
If you made it this far, thank you. My inbox is always open if you need someone to talk to, want to share a resource, or just want to express what you’re feeling. Please continue learning, having conversations about this, and making changes where you can no matter how small it may feel to you.
PS: I've shared a list of resources below in the brain fuel box that I've been diving into. If you need a few places to start, take a look.