I am a white woman who has been feeling tentative to speak out, or to know which action is best to take, on the movement to confront racial injustice.
According to Dr. Tiffany Jana, Conferences for Women speaker and diversity and inclusion expert, “There is a massive sense of fear and resistance in this moment that white people are feeling that is rooted in a lack of understanding.”
I have not spoken out much on the Black Lives Matter movement, because when I supported something posted on social media by a colleague a few weeks ago – from someone I have known for 15 years and very much respect and like – I was verbally attacked, pretty viciously actually, for my lack of understanding of the real issues. Maybe she was right. For good or bad, as a result of this episode, I’ve been feeling a bit frozen and afraid of saying the wrong thing, even though I know that silence is seen by many as complacent. I know many of us might be feeling the same way, but I believe even if I mis-step a bit (how else does one learn something new), I have decided to spend this time to start doing some things that resonate for me as I dig deeply to find my voice and where and how to best use it. I will be judged by some as too slow to act.
How to take action to support racial a world free of anti-racism.
There are countless resources available all over the internet for people looking to learn how to advocate for racial injustice. We all have our part to play and it’s important to educate ourselves and those around us. I believe it’s important to begin to understand which biases hurt us, help us and hurt others around us.
So, select some place where it feels right to you to contribute your voice and your power towards eradicating the dangerous impacts of anti-Blackness. Maybe you’re reading or watching films. Maybe you want to donate money to Center for Democracy & Technology, Color of Change, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, blacklivesmatter.com or some place else you deem worthy of your financial support. Maybe you want to intervene on a local level or maybe global activism feels right to you. Maybe you want to open a difficult conversation with family, friends or colleagues or maybe you want to start a movement yourself or join one that is already in place.
Wherever we each start; it’s important to start. Personally, I’ve decided to start by using my professional coaching and facilitation talents and am getting certified as a facilitator in a leadership program to raise awareness and disrupt habitual biased thinking and behaviors in organizations called, Leading with a Mindset of Inclusion. I’m also reading and watching films on the topic of racism. And talking to my adult children and family members. Is this enough? Some will say no, but it is enough for me at this moment in time.
Take a leadership role.
If leadership means declaring your commitment and then aligning your actions towards that end, asking ourselves specific self-examination questions might be worth the time as a place to start.
Some coaching questions I am finding powerful to ask as we look at how we can turn ourselves from witness to activist and leader:
- What is my specific commitment regarding anti-racism?
- If I am silent, does it mean I am complacent?
- When I see bias, racism, sexism, etc, do I speak up and hold others accountable for their thoughts and actions?
- What role have I taken and is it enough?
- Is there a role I would like to take?
- Based on the power and privilege I have, am I a witness or an activist?
- If I was a courageous leader, what would I say or do?
Individual Call to Action.
A witness has a choice and one choice is active leadership. Hear your own individual call to action and start your own journey as you travel from witness to activist. I know there are no easy quick fixes. I know I have so much to learn and unlearn. I know I want to actively become part of the solution and not part of the problem, even if I am well-intentioned or if I am unconscious about my biases.
As a woman leader and entrepreneur, I am committed to helping create a world full of respect and love. I am committed to healing ourselves and each other to co-create a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported, and safe.
What are you committed to?