So, what do we do? Do we want to do what we’ve always done; so we can get where we’ve always gotten? Or, can we work together, to do things differently, and make a change?
Well, how do we change behavior? We challenge the thoughts that lead to them! How? By having a conversation! (You know, like you do with a therapist when you’re trying to repair a broken relationship or heal the wounds of a tumultuous past.) By having the national conversation to change the way things are going on our own American streets, and last I checked, with our American tax dollars. And I don’t mean chatting about it with your best friends, or your parents, either. And good luck getting a hold of the President. So, who do we have this conversation with? Want to know what I think?
1. Talk to Each Other
First, with Each Other. One of the smartest people I’ve ever met told me once, “We’ve got to focus on the edges. Think about a Venn diagram, two adjoining circles. One circle with you and your people. You have your best and your brightest, all in your circle. Then, there’s the other group, their best and their brightest, in a second adjoining circle. It does neither of us any good to be holding half of the answer if we don’t communicate at the edges, where they cross.” In this case, I think the more we can learn to consider the view points of people unlike us, the better hopes we have of healing our nation. For me, it’s my loved ones. Maybe my colleagues. Maybe my friends. But we don’t, because it makes people feel uncomfortable. Because we’ll invade their “safety space”. We don’t want to bother people, or threaten the comfort of our friendship, or affect the economy, or interrupt the game. We are so afraid to have the conversation. Because someone might get offended. Because we worked so hard to get our peaceful way of life. So we excuse acts of inhumanity if they don’t affect us, and we pardon injustices if they’re not against us, because we don’t want to shake things up, or threaten relationships. World, when the world is burning, I think we could hope for the chance to have the meaningful conversations again. This affects everybody we know, and we have to talk this thing through.
2. Talk to the Kids
Second, with our kids. I’ll admit it. I don’t like talking about race with my children because I don’t want them to think of people in terms of their physical attributes, skin color included. Because I thought that we were evolved enough that such things should make no difference and shouldn’t even require mentioning; and are never, ever, to be cause for making someone feel bad. So, I thought I was doing the right thing. I actually only recently had my first real conversation with my son about skin color, specifically, because one of his assignments practically required it. Friends, this, alone, we can count as our first and foremost privilege. We can choose if and when we have that conversation with our children. We get to decide if we are going to place this notion in their worlds, where some mothers may not have that choice. But I see now that not calling out racism and condemning it in a world where it undeniably lives specifically ignores a real problem, it only empowers the oppressors, and it turns a blind eye to the victims. Denying it stops us from being able to heal it. But most importantly, ignoring it doesn’t prepare my son with the knowledge of what to do if he encounters it. We’ve got to feel it to heal it, America. Why don’t we speak to them about it? Probably because speaking it means actually admitting to our kids that this is the best we could do as a society… I call “bullshit” on us. Shame on us.
3. Talk to Someone Who Can Make a Difference
Then, we need to talk with someone who can make a difference. We need to make some change. What’s the answer here? What’s the goal?? What’s the ASK??? We can’t act like all this riot madness is the problem. No, friends, what we are witnessing are byproducts of the problem. March, pray, or kneel, whatever you need to do to get your point across. But someone, somewhere has to make some changes to fix the actual problems here. It’s not torching the towns. That doesn’t fix anything. It’s certainly not feigning support for a few days, and then forgetting to fix it until the next tragedy stirs us up. We need to effect real changes in the way these things are handled. Abuse of power makes that power undeserved; and if we don’t force that to change, it won’t. That means, stop looking the other way, and hold people accountable. Prosecute all violators. If we know better, we have to do better. And if you’re a good cop that hates the actions of those bad cops, then we need your help the most.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
― Maya Angelou