We are seeing the world shaken by something seen by many through social media, with other unseen impressions. In this post, I want to help develop your knowledge of culture and diversity while attempting to educate you about how you can lean in during a time that might make you uncomfortable.
Although I do my best to understand everyone, I am also aware that inclusion is a journey. If you would like to share anything, I welcome your voice and opinion to help me too!
I used to consider myself very advanced regarding inclusivity regarding diversity. However, I did not see myself as anything different or superior to other individuals. I thought of myself as "color-blind," and that was the end goal. It was not until my senior year of nursing; I took a course that emphasized the continuum for continuous progression. We took an assessment, Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). I learned that being "color-blind" is not the end goal; instead, there is more to learn about others. If you are interested in the assessment, you can take it on their website and learn more about the continuum. Unconscious bias is incredibly challenging, and as a nurse, this is terrifying for me. Statistically, black patients do not receive the same level of care in the United States. Educate yourself and others so we can all do better.
I have a scenario I want you to consider as a small assessment of unknown/known prejudices, to help you continue growing.
You are filling up your car at a gas station in an area you are not familiar with. While you are waiting patiently next to your car, you see a black man walking out of the convenience store. He takes a few steps out the door before he begins running through the parking lot to the sidewalk to carefully checking for oncoming traffic before crossing the street and speeding off into the distance.
Be honest with yourself.
Did you assume he stole something?
Would you have felt unsafe standing at your car and quickly have got in and locked your door?
Did you consider he may not have a car to get to his nearest ATM?
Did you think he may be making an evening run and stopped to go to the bathroom and a sports drink before running home?
I will NEVER understand the struggles of minority individuals. There is significant unrest regarding racial equality, but this does not begin to touch disparities in all minority groups. I do not understand how people would see the video of George Floyd's murder and not be disturbed. If you find yourself not connecting emotionally to the gravity of this case, I challenge you to see it from another point of view. How you identify, (racially, culturally, religiously, etc.), consider the person being murdered as someone you identify with, or a loved one.
Would you want voices to be heard around the world too?
Would you want to see the world change to not have someone else suffer?
Would you want to shake the ethics of society?
Would you keep scrolling and ignore it?
As a result of this tragedy and far too many others, the conversations are happening, and people are listening. It is incredibly hard to see past the death, violence, disrespect, and misunderstanding on all sides of the conversation, but I challenge you to lean in. Is there more to the story? There have been many beautiful examples of progress every day, and it can be tough to see at times. Black people were enslaved in the United States for hundreds of years. Yet, interracial marriage hasn't been legal in all 50 states for even 100 years. In my opinion, it is ignorant to think there is not a problem. I think the human race is capable of excellent progression. Still, the time has not been enough for EVERYONE to know that there is a problem with racism, black people are capable of everything. They have been oppressed in a society perched on freedom...but trapped by narrow minds.
Are there good cops out there? Yes. Are there bad people out there? Yes.
Even the strongest emotions don't do this disparity justice. Police brutality disgusts me to see for anyone; black, white, purple, orange, gay, straight, whatever you identify with, nobody deserves to die because they were out for a run. Everyone can be good or bad whatever they are. To reduce a person to a profile, would be damning for every. single. person. so, don't do it to others at the bare minimum.
I want to see the world change, and I think it is capable, but to get there, it might be uncomfortable for some. Some people may not understand why they believe the things they do, but change is possible. I admit that I have not always been so accepting, but I have taken the time to educate myself and grow. I have asked questions, empathized, made myself uncomfortable because we are all people that need to be treated fairly.
I have had a few black boyfriends—nothing to be praised for because we are all able to love who we love. I had reconnected with a high school friend a few years after one of my relationships had ended, and they said to me, "Didn't you date a black guy? Come on, Macy, you can do better." This makes me want to crawl out of my skin to this day but shows the level of disrespect people have and think is societally acceptable to not only think, but to say out loud. It will take hard conversations and growth for many people to things to change.
The hardest counter-argument right now to people talking about black lives matter usually starting with, "but the looting." There is power in numbers, and the mob mentality is genuine. This is not the majority, but yes, there are people taking advantage of the situation on both sides. Police are using excessive force to ensue damage towards peaceful protestors. Rioters are using excessive force to damage businesses' not involved in the conflict. Seek to see the bigger picture and the humanity that is engulfing many areas as well.
I am not sure how Black Lives Matter became controversial, but the counter-statement of "well all lives matter," quickly irritated many. I admit that I did not immediately understand why saying "all lives matter" was so offensive. Still, I leaned in. I am willing to admit when I am wrong, or I do not know, so I challenge the same from you. My initial thought was that everyone is important, and everyone should live, right? Going back to the idea of being "color-blind," this is very hard to get past as a white person. The fear of scrutiny as a white person is indeed powerful.
In a sensitive time like this, I do not want to offend anyone because I think everyone is beautiful, which leaves many silenced even if they respect minorities. If you are not a minority, I encourage you to take action at the bottom of this post somehow. If you are a minority, because someone you know did not post a black square or anything related to these events, it does not mean they are racist. When I did not fully understand, I asked someone. I still didn't fully get it, I tried harder. I went out of my way to work. Yes, LBGTQ+ lives matter, Jewish lives matter, Hispanic lives matter, you all matter. I think this movement has allowed a pathway for understanding and the conversations to start, black lives mattering is a beautiful start to changing history for the better.
When the Boston Marathon was bombed as an act of terror, it was apparent that nobody should have ever experienced that. I was not in Boston, and I will never know what those people and families of loved ones had to go through as a result, but it hearts my heart to have seen it happen and empathize. After this event, Boston Strong started as a way to support those involved in the attach and sending hope from everywhere. It was not, United States Strong, or America Strong. Your city was not bombed, but we wanted to support the one that was. Racism is our own domestic terrorism.
Here are some ways you can start to educate yourself or get involved. Posting a black square on Instagram isn't the final piece to the puzzle. Netflix has an entire folder dedicated to helping people understand more. Put on a show or a documentary every other time you watch TV, maybe if you aren't ready for every night thing just yet. The truth is, there is no one single answer, but there is growth, beauty, love, and progress that is being written in history. Coronavirus has been an unseen killer writing history for 2020, but racism has been written in history all too much. This year is something generations to come will have to ask us about for a paper or extra credit in history. Do you want them to write that you did nothing? Keep leaning in. Educate yourself and push for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect. The content below is not mine but are a few ways to get involved.
Ways to change your mindset and know:
Not all people that are black are African American.
There is no such thing as reverse racism.
Did you get the job because you are black?
Just because you know black people does not mean you are not racist.
People do not talk more/less black.
Not everyone can succeed if they work hard enough. Anyone can be born into misfortune.
Your minority friend probably was followed around a store, and they are not being "too sensitive."
I hope this post was helpful to many! As always feel free to reach out with any questions comments or concerns.