“Better stick to yoga.”
“Don’t choose sides.”
“You should be careful, you don’t want to lose any customers.”
As I look at my morning to-do list and think about the yoga content I’m creating today, I can’t help but think that what I’m doing is insignificant compared to the people who are addressing more significant issues. To be honest, I don’t think I have what it takes to continually address difficult issues like these on a daily basis. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.
And I realize that even having this ability to choose is privilege. So if I’m serious about what I’m saying, it’s exactly for this reason that I have to continue to state my beliefs. To avoid doing so would make me guilty by omission.
Being silent is the problem.
Racism won’t be solved by people of color. White people have to assume responsibility to move forward.
Here’s the hard truth – as a multi-national country, we have to do more if we expect to function peacefully together. We have a responsibility to learn about cultures different than our own, to practice empathy for people are different than us, and to be okay with the fact that people may have different values or lifestyles than the one we’re used to.
For White people in particularly, we have to recognize that we are responsible for racism, even if you don’t think you’ve consciously engaged in it. We have to admit our guilt, even if it’s uncomfortable and you don’t think you’ve done anything.
To start seeing change, we have to do more than say that “racism is wrong”.
What exactly is that? Based on what I’ve been reading, my own upbringing in a diverse community, and my own personal reflections, here are 3 things I think that we can each start doing – today.
- Confront the uncomfortable past of our country, understand that racism is built into the various levels of our government and laws, and that the legacy of slavery is alive and well in every level of our society.
- Work side-by-side with Blacks and other minorities to enact the legal changes to help change the system
- Admit that each and every one of us is subconsciously racist, and vigilantly take action when we notice it is affecting our behaviors.
This is not comfortable nor easy to do. This is emotionally, physically and spiritually draining. And if you’ve got other things to do or feel you’re already maxed out with other responsibilities, just remember this – these are issues that the Black community (and other minorities, and pretty much anybody who isn’t White, straight, and Christian) face EVERY day. They don’t have the ability to decide whether or not to engage in these issues. Having a choice to engage in these issues is the very definition of privilege!!! To deny that it exists or to deny your responsibility to accept it is morally wrong.
Confronting these issues brings up anger; and as I stated before, that anger is rooted in a sense of helplessness, the feeling that no matter what I do or what I say, people will not change their mind.
So I’m presented with a choice.
I could stay silent and let things die down, go back to creating yoga content and appeasing the people who disagree with me –
Or I can do the right thing. I can stick to my guns. I can do what I can with my platform to effect the change I want to see – even if it loses me customers or followers.
I won’t lie and say the haters don’t get to me. It does hurt. It makes me angry. It distracts me from my other work. It occupies my mind, and if I don’t keep it in check, it can have an overall negative impact on my personal relationships.
But despite the discomfort, despite the threats of losing followers or customers, and despite the well-intentioned advice of friends and family, I persist – because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s within my power to do so. Because it’s an example that others in my situation ALSO have the power to do so.
Saw Lebron James’ post and it inspired me to write something similar.