On Thursday I was invited to talk with the staff of the CDC Foundation on the sensitive subject of social unrest, racism, and health disparities. Each one of the subjects could have been its own session.
I invited my friend, Sabrina, to do this along with me so that we could share personal experiences from completely different backgrounds.
I sure hope we opened up dialogue going forward as it is uncomfortable to talk about a subject that is alluded to but mostly ignored in our culture. It is a must to dialogue with each other openly; however, we must also have an inward conversation with ourselves.
As Michael Jackson sang, “It starts with the man in the mirror.”
So as a Health & Life Coach, why am I writing about this? For one reason, it is because I know that chronic stress leads to disease. These turbulent times are causing stress in everyone – which then makes me think of the marginalized people who experience chronic stress and/or trauma on a daily basis because of systemic racism and its unhealthy, divisive effects. Connect the dots to the Covid-19 death rate stats.
It is difficult for kind, loving people to look at themselves and see that they may have racist thoughts. If you are a kind, white person reading this, you may be defensively saying, “I’m not racist!”
I get it. There is obvious resistance to admitting a pattern of thinking (or lack of thinking). Perhaps a person is not racist all the time… but as we discussed on Thursday, whenever we lump any group of people together, we have to admit that we may be racist some of the time. A personal start to eradicating racism is to be aware when we assign attributes to any group at any time. We must look at an individual, as an individual. That is why we called our talk Intimacy = in to me you see. Being kind alone is not going to cut it anymore. Being kind AND taking action will eradicate racism.
As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
In coaching we often say, “Name it to tame it.” This is when you reach deep within and find the thing that is really the sore spot within you. It is uncomfortable and can cause inner-turbulence and doubt… but that’s when the change begins to happen. When you can name it you can tame it.
I understand that some are having a hard time with this racial awakening being titled “Black Lives Matter” because they say that “all lives matter.” And of course, it’s true – I agree. But consider this: if one house is on fire in your neighborhood, you don’t call the fire department and say, “all houses matter.” You call the fire department to the specific house that needs urgent attention. And this is the house that is on fire. Today, we say Black Lives Matter, specifically, because it’s urgent that we address and heal the injustices that are devastating the Black community.
I urge you to educate yourself – as I am about to do with myself. I am offering resources that I, too, will be reading because we cannot let these protests and this “awakening” get swept away as we go about living our privileged daily lives. It’s too easy to forget there’s another way Americans live – without easy access to healthy foods and many other health related services. That is wrong. Systematic Racism creates trauma and the cycle perpetuates itself into deeper and deeper problems.
Let’s educate ourselves so that we can be part of the solution instead of the problem. This is a Movement not a Moment.
Who’s with me?
What to Read (may be available in audio):
- White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo [also on Audible]
- Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins
- Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison 1952
- How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, Ira Katznelson
What to Watch:
- Thirteenth, Netflix
- When They See Us, Netflix
- The Hate U Give, Hulu
- Just Mercy, Amazon Prime
What to Listen to:
- About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge(takes the conversation a step further.)
- 1619, Podcast NY Times
- Code Switch, NPR
- Revisionist History, Malcom Gladwell
What to do:
- Do your candidate research before voting at local, state, national level branch.vote (non-partisan information in Georgia only right now)
- Join a diverse group to listen, learn and leverage what you’ve learned together
- Accept feedback graciously with no excuses – and make the change
- Speak up even when it is uncomfortable
- Choose some area to get involved in… don’t let yourself freeze by feeling overwhelmed by the whole system.