Empathy wins! A thought popped into my head Thursday morning and begged me to put pen to paper. An appointment got cancelled and there I was writing it. I got feedback from my Mastermind group (they know who they are!) and just made it happen on Friday morning. Never could I have imagined the outpouring of responses that I’d get it, and am still getting. Especially during this demoralizing election season, all of this has warmed my heart! Thank you, thank you!
I really wasn’t trying to trigger white guilt, though at the same time I appreciate that for any thinking, rational, feeling white person, the struggle must be real in that area. I by no means want to come across as speaking for all Black people because it would be racist to assume all black people think, feel, and act alike. Still, I’m honored and humbled to have Black people I knew already and those I didn’t say that this piece spoke to their own experiences.
In response to the many “let me know how I can support you” comments, here are a few suggestions. There are people way wiser than me in these areas, and those whose lived experiences provide insight into small and large solutions. I invite them to add to this list:
1. Understand the difference between sympathy and empathy and incorporate more empathy into your daily life. Brené Brown is my guru in this area and there’s a great quick video explains the difference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw.
2. Find ways to speak up and speak out. Here’s one:http://www.injusticeboycott.com/.
3. Visit the newest Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to learn the roots of the oppression we still feel in a country that was built on the backs of slavery but often avoids addressing it. You’ll also learn about a people of great strength and fortitude and celebration, so don’t miss that message.
4. Consider reading Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race.
5. Like DC Equity Lab on Facebook and Twitter. We’re hosting events in DC designed to bring together people across difference to create solutions.
6. If you’re a DC-based education professional, come to the happy hour I’m co-hosting with YEP-DC this Wednesday, October 5th. Education professionals need to come together – even just for socializing and networking – across difference if we are to reach the solutions we need for our kids. RSVP here: https://t.co/i18skT6Pfc.
7. Feel free to share this with others. I’ve posted it on my company blog page here: https://edplusconsulting.com/dear-white-friends/
8. Most importantly, don’t be my ally, be my CO-CONSPIRATOR. Allies are just with you in solidarity, which is nice and all. But co-conspirators are doing as much of the work as you – committed to awareness building, speaking up against injustice, getting uncomfortable as the need requires, etc. People of non-dominant culture are looking for co-conspirators because without them, real change will never happen.