The world seems like a whole new place from when we gathered last week, doesn’t it?
Except it isn’t. Not for our Black friends and family. Black people have been painfully aware of America’s racism. They have been trying to tell us. We just have not listened.
For white people in America, we are having some growing pains. It feels tender, raw and scary, like most new growth is. Are we going to get it right all of the time? Nope. But that is ok because that means we are trying new things. Trust me – as a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, I understand the fear. Take action anyway. It is better to take action, get it wrong, apologize, and course correct than to sit by doing what we always do.
Tender New Growth
I have a lime tree growing on my deck. When we moved it outside, it was a stark, ugly stick with just a few branches of leaves jutting out the bottom of it. I pruned what I knew to be dead wood and then sat back and watched over the next couple weeks. It was hard to look at that ugly little stick. I wanted things to look a certain way and be the perfect little gardener. I wanted it to magically be the way I want, but that is not how Nature works.
Instead I took small steps that seemed insanely inadequate.
- I watered regularly.
- I added compost.
- I observed.
If I were a better gardener I may have had citrus fertilizer on hand, but I didn’t. In another time, I would have gone to buy some, but it is not essential. I did not do this perfectly.
This week, each node is sprouting little tender growth. The way of Nature is to reward small steps. Small efforts.
If you are looking for some solid action steps to take, I would like to offer some suggestions.
- Donate to Black Lives Matter. Forget your time and supplies, it takes 90 seconds to Venmo some money. Trust the leaders in your community know where the biggest need is. Here is the donation link to donate money in my area if you are too busy to search for your area. Note: If you are too busy to search, I wonder if that would still be the case if it were your child who was murdered in the street.
- Join the Black Lives Matter Facebook page for your area. Then shut your mouth and really listen to what people are asking of you. This is not the time for white people to stand up and tell the world how Black people have been persecuted. Our job as white people is to make it safe for Black people to tell their story. In my area this looks like being a barrier between Black people and police at protests. In Denver, CO police are targeting medics at the rallies so a friend of mine is coordinating protection for the medics.
- Personally, I am not attending protests yet because I am a COVID 19 high risk group. I am not asking you to protest. I am asking you to look at something on Facebook besides cat videos.
- Check on your Black friends. This is not to ask them how you can help. You are not reaching out to help you help. You are just pulling up along side them to observe.
- If you don’t have Black friends, have a frank conversation with yourself about why not. Then start to get educated on the Black experience. Here are some suggestions that Black leaders on social media have suggested (Translation: This is not White Sue telling you; this is what “amplifying Black voices means”):
- Watch Just Mercy, a movie based a book by the same name. It chronicles the civil rights work of attorney Bryan Stevenson. It is FREE to watch for anyone. If you can read this post, you can watch Just Mercy.
- Listen to 1619, a podcast series by the New York Times. It “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
- Read How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Amazon is sold out of the book, but buy the Kindle version and read it on your phone. Sure it is not ideal, but stop letting being uncomfortable get in your way. Do you think it is comfortable to die in public with a 200 pound man kneeling on your neck?
- Let go of your white guilt. By lamenting that you just did not understand before, you are still making it about you and white people. Action speaks louder than words. Now that you are aware, don’t let the sun go down on one more day without you acting like an ally. Sitting by and doing nothing is no longer sustainable for our world.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou
If you need accountability to keep going, there are Facebook pages you can join or please consider me your accountability buddy. Check back here to tell me what actions you are taking. Go to my Facebook or Instagram and let’s start a thread there to inspire others who can’t decide on their next right thing.