If I had to pick a person today who I would want to have a flirt-fest with, Walton Goggins would make the top of the list. That said, I’d probably go into total shut down mode if he sat next to me. Some in my circle know I like him as an actor and suggested I watch The Unicorn, which makes sense because I think I’ve watched everything else he has been in. So last night I watched Season 2, Episode 3, It’s the Thought That Counts, and was really impressed with the writers who took on the topic of racism, but also friendship. I’ve often struggled with knowing how to say or do the right thing, and sometimes I’ve just really misstepped, but I am going to keep trying. And this makes me think back to an article I wrote for Impact100 Metro Denver, which I forgot to post on this website, so I’m posting it now.
I love that the writers of The Unicorn addressed the subject of racism as a way to have an example of how this may be dealt with amongst friends. But also as a way to push the topic of racism and bring it into people’s homes so that, hopefully, there are some listening and/or conversations that are being born from this important topic.
Here is my article I wrote for Impact100 Metro Denver a few months ago:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. - Desmond Tutu
Working on diversity, equity and inclusion is hard. And then I remind myself that there are many, many others who have a much stronger picture about what constitutes hard.
I have a courageous daughter who is transgender. And the love I have in my heart for her knows no bounds. My journey, personally and professionally, started long before I had her, and it will continue because I want the world to be a better place for her and for everyone else too. Humanity deserves a better place than where we are sitting right now.
As part of my needed evolution, I voluntarily took a multi-day workshop from Brenda Herrera Moreno of In.Visible Paradigms. What I learned, among other things, is that I need to shut up and listen more. And pick up my ego and move on because this isn’t really about me. Except it is because I can help move the needle in the right direction. I’ve taken various other workshops, read books, listened to podcasts. I advocate, attend exhibits, sit on panels, and educate my kids (and sometimes, they educate me too!). And I’ve had some hard conversations. Essentially, I’m challenging my perceptions as a white, cisgender woman.
As someone who generally has no problem sharing my two cents, I also realize we each have our own personal journey. My fight for DEI needs me presenting myself in a way that best suits me and my skills. I’m fine being comfortable, or even uncomfortable on occasion, if I’m getting something out of it—like learning or helping others. I’d also say that I think there have been times when my words didn’t match my intent, and growing from that awareness is really important to me.
What do missteps look like? In trying to have a conversation at the dinner table about racism right before the Impact100 book group for White Fragility, I used both the N word and the C word to say there is no place for these words because both allow for the oppression of people. (BTW, this C isn’t the four letter C word.) I then learned that I should never, ever use the N word. Being shamed on the spot by the kids at the table didn’t feel good at all. But to be honest, I would much rather misstep with anyone, and learn along the way, than take no step at all. In other words, if in my heart, I’m trying to do the right thing, then I need to learn from it, forgive myself for my mistake, apologize, and move on to get the work done. And I think there are lots of opportunities for doing good.
Just recently, I re-posted on NextDoor an article titled “Calls to boycott Coca-Cola after Biden called Georgia's planned voting restrictions 'Jim Crow in the 21st Century,’” published in Business Insider. Essentially, I was encouraging grassroots action to support black people’s voting rights in Georgia. NextDoor removed it without explanation. I wrote them, and they determined that they shouldn’t have removed it, and put it back up. I then thanked them on NextDoor while posting another article trying to make people aware of their power in using their voice.
Well before that, a husband of a bi-racial couple shared a story with me. He and his wife were badly treated by one racist woman and her friend at an annual neighborhood gathering. I reached out to the host and a few Board members to share how the racist behavior from these two women, who were guests at this gathering, created a negative representation of the whole entire neighborhood. Someone from the Board, along with a few others, then reached out to the new family, and my understanding is that one of them now serves on the Board, which was, by the way, diverse to begin with.
There have been times when I’ve been stuck, but I’m trying. For me, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. I had a few of these challenging conversations. And then I got to speak with Dr. Ryan Ross of Urban Leadership Foundation, who was patient with me and took the time to suggest that I watch the movie, Judas and the Black Messiah. This powerful documentary is about the betrayal of Fred Hampton, who was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. In this documentary, it shows how the police were responsible in the 60’s for death and destruction. And as my son passionately said, look at what happened in Tulsa in 1921—more people were involved in destroying the thriving Black Wall Street than just the police. So now I think like this: Black Lives Matter and all lives matter. Do I think police officers matter? Of course! But as one friend pointed out to me, blue uniforms are the color of clothing, not the color of skin. And a police uniform is not the same as a life. Therefore, any conversation about blue lives matter isn’t in the same ballpark as DEI, and so it just doesn’t deserve an entry ticket to this important conversation.
The 1920’s and the 1960’s are a long time ago. And I want to help move the needle in the right direction. I recognize that I’m changing, and that the world needs to too. One way for me to better understand the experiences of racism was to ask some of my friends to share their stories with me. Their stories are diverse and compelling.
A beautiful black friend, who I originally met at our children’s private school, is a business owner with two girls. She shared with me the fear that she has for her daughters, especially should they get pulled over by a police officer. I am not black, but as a mother myself, I feel for her and her children because her experience is not mine. I believe the police are always there to help me. And it is not fair that she cannot have the same experience as me.
Another wonderful American who is originally from Peru, was walking with her then husband in Texas. Her ex, who saw the glances of people around them, wouldn’t hold her hand any longer. Although she is now retired, she and her now husband had a business for many years where they employed many people. And she did so much volunteer work at her kids’ school that I felt a little guilty that I chose to not do more.
A friend who I like hiking with shared with me that a woman and her pre-teen child approached her at a bus stop right after Covid appeared. This mother screamed at her, called her the long version of a MF, and told her to go back to China. My friend is an American citizen of Korean heritage. She is an educated professional who works for our government, and has previously owned a business that supported the community in numerous ways. My friend is small, but that day I imagine she shrunk. At this bus stop, no one came to support her or offer kind words.
The people mentioned here are incredible people. But no matter what my resume says, or theirs, or yours, I think it is important that we find equal footing in respecting and honoring each other because we all bring something to this world. There are all different kinds of people who come from different walks of life who add value and flavor to creating a United States that's desirable. People should be honored for their contribution in making this Nation better than it was, whether they make minimum wage or whether they are a business owner.
I would love to see a letter writing campaign at Impact100 or elsewhere to address important issues, for instance the need for fair voting practices mentioned above. I think it gives more meaning to any meeting, opens our organization up to other communities, and also has us show up in ways that go beyond just giving grants. It creates more purpose. Powerful women working together to create goodness in the world.
I can see a need to listen and a need to be vocal, whether by my using my voice or my pen. I’m trying. As mentioned in USA Today, there are over 838 hate groups in the United States in 2020, and that’s scary. So trying is so very important to me. I want to be hopeful. And I also think that if I don’t speak up, how am I contributing to the hate in this world?