“There is no blueprint for how to get it right.” — Tunde Oyeneyin
There is so much work that needs to be done. Now, today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life.
Here’s what I’m noticing on my own journey in anti-racism work: I trip, I fall, I discover, I learn. The learning part is deeply uncomfortable. There are places where my anger flares up, where I find myself getting VERY defensive. I’m learning to ask, “What is this really about? Where is this coming from?” Often, the discomfort comes from my subconscious. Something is threatening my unnamed or unchecked power or my comfort and I don’t like it. My knee-jerk reaction is to reject it, to defend myself, to stick with the status quo, when I don’t see what I’m doing.
There is so much I don’t know. There is so much I can’t know. As a white woman, there is no way that I can ever truly fully know the lived experience of Black women, Black people, and people of color.
I will listen deeply to the lived experiences of what other people tell me.
What I can do is listen, and believe you. Brené Brown says: “In order to empathize with someone’s experience, you must be willing to believe them as THEY SEE IT, and not how you imagine their experience to be.”
This is why our first core value in my company is that we use the words “In My Experience.” It is not my job to reject, explain away, or diminish someone else’s lived experience, whether in motherhood or business or womanhood or race or anything else.
There is no playbook for this. We must create it.
There is no playbook for how to become an anti-racist society. There is no downloadable 10-step e-book plan for doing this. We’re not going to get this right. Let me rephrase that: I’m not going to get this “right.” I want to know what boxes I can check to “do this the right way.” But there is only the guarantee that I will get this wrong, and I will learn, and I will keep going. The point is not to be a perfect white ally. The point is to become a society that is based on justice and equity, and to address our racist history and the very real racism and white supremacy that exists in our culture right now.
“The point is to become a society that is based on justice and equity, and to address our racist history and the very real racism and white supremacy that exists in our culture right now.”
Don’t stop if it gets hard or uncomfortable.
Here are a few reminders and words that have helped me. (I think of these as “mantras,” which means “mind tool,” originally in Hinduism or Buddhism, but you can also call them phrases or reminders). For me, it’s a phrase you can repeat to yourself when you’re feeling the feels and digging in and doing the work.
I’m going to do this wrong, over and over again.
I will keep going. I will keep doing better.
There is no right way to end racism.
There is no playbook for this.
We haven’t done this before, and it will be hard.
We must keep going.
It’s okay to be angry.
It’s okay for me to be uncomfortable.
People have every right to be angry.
I can handle it when other people are angry. It’s okay for you to be angry at me. I can handle your anger.
I can listen right now. I don’t have to solve this. I can just listen.
My discomfort is not a priority right now. What happens when I sit with my discomfort instead of trying to launch it over to someone else?
Keep going. Keep doing the work.
I write a newsletter about personal development, psychology, and leadership. Recent essays cover how to make better decisions, designing your schedule and life, rethinking the structure of work to fit a more human body, and the intersection of parenting and work. If you're curious, seeking the spark of new and interesting ideas, and want some groundedness within the flurry of modern life, you will probably enjoy my newsletter. Don't see the form below? Head here to subscribe instead.