Walking the walk: Being an agent of change for racial equality
2020 has been a roller-coaster year for most of us. COVID-19 felt like a watershed moment. Where we have realized how important it is to take care of each other, our selves and our community. And yet…recently we have seen that it has not been enough. That often the color of our skin has lulled us into thinking that we were all walking in lock-step together to get through COVID-19. Until we realized that many of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) family and friends have been kept out of that support. When we cast our thoughts back we may quickly realize that this has been going on throughout our lives, but truly it’s been going on for hundreds of years.
I grew up in Miami, Florida, where diversity was so common that I boasted of being color-blind. I accepted all of my friends no matter what their skin tone. It is only with growing understanding these last few years that color-blindness as it relates to race does not exist. That while maybe I did not discriminate I did nothing to understand their point of view. That I believed that we were all equal, but never actually checked to see if my version of reality was true.
I remember thinking that I learned everything I needed from school about racism and discrimination. What I did not realize was that I was not being taught everything. What’s even more upsetting was the realization that what I was taught was through the lens of white privilege and fragility. I had grown up with the axiom – the winner writes the history, but somehow I believed that MY school would have provided fair, unbiased history. Because if I grew up in an inclusive space, that would have to mean that my school taught everything, the good, the bad and the ugly about our shared history. I was sadly mistaken. Our history was so thoroughly whitewashed, that it is only now that I am in my mid-40’s that I fully understand things that happened here in the US, as well as locally in my city.
What I have realized is that I need to ask questions and support my peers, friends and family who are BIPOC. How can we be agents of change in our community? First, we can acknowledge that something is happening in our nation and check in to see how we can support our clients, friends and community. I have been soul-searching each interaction I have with friends, family and content read. I have been spending time noticing my prejudices, beliefs and rationalizations. Then I have been challenging them. We all need to come from a place of desiring to grow into a more capable, understanding human. Let’s walk the walk, instead of talk the talk now.