The June List: Black Lives Matter
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
The news has been terrible lately, with racial injustices laid bare, and more black lives taken at the hands of law enforcement. It's led to a boiling point across the country after generations of oppression, and some of that immense pain is being expressed in the form of protests in cities all across America. All this against the backdrop of the continued pandemic, which isn't letting up.
In the days after Ahmaud Arbery's and George Floyd's deaths, I saw the community of people that I connect with on social media immediately and wholeheartedly condemn racism and police brutality. It heartened me to know that I am among people who want to be part of the solution.
Words are important in times like these. Showing up is important. But words alone are not enough. This month, my June list consists of actions that I am committing to taking to contribute to the building of a better, more tolerant and loving society, starting in my home.
As a non-black woman of color, I recognize that I have privilege afforded to me because my skin is lighter than that of others. This is not to undermine racism, stereotyping, and discrimination that Asian-Americans face. But the fact is that people who look like me do not typically know what it is like to fear for our lives when doing things so mundane as going out for a run. I think that minorities especially need to speak up and show up for each other. Even though every community faces a unique set of struggles, there are echoes in our experiences that should make us sensitive to and empathetic of the suffering of other minority groups.
My household is committed to supporting organizations that do valuable work. We have "Donations" as a category in our monthly budget because we want to make a difference with our disposable income. This month, we're starting with a contribution to Color of Change, and we're going to decide on another organization to support in the coming days. (Update, June 3rd: We've since donated to the NAACP, and our donation was doubled by an employer matching program.)
In the same vein, speaking with my consumer dollars is something that is important to me. It's almost the least I can do. Making the conscious effort and choice to spend my money with businesses that hold the same values as I do as well as directly supporting BIPOC owned businesses will help to lift them up and ensure they are part of the "after". This Instagram post compiles a list of black-owned businesses to support.
Something that can be easier said than done is to not look away. I will continue to stay engaged with the news, to listen, to learn, and to feel. Some of it will be painful, but some of it will be hopeful. This video from Trevor Noah on the importance of the social contract and how so much of what we're seeing is because black people in America no longer trust in it was something I watched that stuck with me.
I will also practice forgiveness for myself and for others when we show up imperfectly. It's easy to stumble when you're trying to do the right thing but don't know exactly how, whether by not quite striking the right tone or finding the best words.
Later, when I begin to encounter people again, I'm going to be alert to any subconscious biases that I hold, against any person with a different background than me. I'm going to remember to stay in the moment and connect honestly with the singularly special person in front of me. I want to practice this every single day, so that I can model this behavior, be a better human, and experience more humanity.