“What can I do?”
Listen. Learn. Empathize. Speak up.
This exchange has occurred countless times over the last few weeks and as the protests begin to slow down, the news coverage begins to shift back to COVID-19, and life begins to transition back toward “normal” I hope we don’t forget about the conversations, the videos, the awareness, and progress that has been made. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a LONG way to go, but progress has been made.
One way to keep the momentum going is to continue to have thoughtful conversations and for white people, it is to continue to listen to the stories of American life for black people. Thankfully, we have strong people like Emlen Miles-Mattingly hosting conversations like this one with Samuel Deane, Dasarte Yarnway, and Tyrone Ross. This conversation is so important because it gives the listener four unique perspectives on similar life experiences. Unique in that they are four individuals who did not know each other prior to the last few years and grew up in different places across the country. Similar because they all have stories that echoed each other with the only underlying commonality is that they are all black men.
Over the last few weeks, I have heard too many people deny the differences in the lives of a white person and a black person in America. Statistics are always cited, but we all know statistics are cherry-picked and every statistic for an argument has an equally strong statistic against it. Just for a minute throw the statistics out. Listen to the real-life experiences of other people. Only when you hear these stories will you begin to understand the inequalities that exist. Listen to the anger. Listen to the pain. Listen to the sadness. Listen to the despair. These emotions cannot be faked—they come from experience. Once we can agree the inequalities exist, quit making excuses, and defending them will we really be able to begin to make progress. And as Samuel notes, the change is going to have to happen through white people.
Please take an hour and listen to these four black men tell their stories–I’m extremely proud to call these men my friends and brothers. And don’t just listen to it by yourself, listen to it with your children, expose them to these stories, and have a family discussion about what you hear. Keep the conversation going and allow those conversations to turn into actions.
Let’s keep the momentum going–it’s getting easier to go back to the comfort of our lives before George Floyd was murdered. Stay uncomfortable—that’s where growth occurs.
Speaking of uncomfortable, I caught this video on IG last night and thought it was good. Check this out as well:
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