Change, growth, and anti-racism
Hey friends. I feel like this is the longest I’ve gone without posting here on the blog… but I think the pause was very necessary. It was clear that this past week was not about me and I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was trying to capitalize off of their pain and grief. As the inspiring Ally Love said this week, “our trauma is not your trend.” And she’s 1000% right. Instead, this week was about learning and listening and amplifying Black voices. And let me tell ya, I learned A LOT.
As I start posting more about recipes, wellness, and style again, I want to be completely clear: I believe that Black Lives Matter. Not only that, but this week has been incredibly eye opening. I feel like so much has shifted inside of me, and I’m embarrassed that it took something so drastic and horrifying to really wake me up… but I’m here now.
Before diving into how I plan to move forward, I just want to say that I am so grateful for the voices that encouraged people to self reflect and learn. Instead of getting defensive, I realized this was an opportunity to ask myself some hard questions and I encourage you to do the same.
Questions I’ve asked myself:
Have I internalized racism throughout my life?
What did I see, hear, or watch that helped me form those biases without ever thinking twice?
Could my intentions not be matching my impact?
What was I blind to because my reality was and is so different from what a Black person experiences in this country?
What parts of our history did I never learn about and/or understand?
How can I leverage my privilege to help?
To take that further, I’ve also taken note of the questions I can bring up in conversations with other people about race to acknowledge the complexities of these topics. Because how can we talk about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” without also acknowledging the context of our history and the systemic racism that still exists? Just because we’ve always felt protected by the police, does that mean we should completely dismiss the topic of reform or defunding when Black communities don’t feel protected by them? Especially since the police are rarely held accountable for their actions? And probably the most common conversation that came up last week:
How can we only focus on rioting/looting without also focusing on the pain and injustice that caused it?
It can be tempting to avoid these conversations or avoid posting online for fear of stirring the pot or upsetting someone… especially when you don’t know all of the answers yourself. But I also have no idea how you can watch that video of George Floyd’s death without something lighting inside of you. This is not okay. And while I still have a lot to learn, one thing I know is that I have a platform that reaches people. I can get signatures for petitions. I can amplify a Black voice that might change your mind about micro aggressions. And I can encourage you to donate and vote. I can and I should. Not for a pat on the back, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because I have privilege and influence – and those are two powerful things.
Of course, I can never really understand what it’s like to be Black in America, and I’m sure I’ll get some things wrong as I continue to learn. I now know that I can be a lot more mindful about this space to make it more inclusive and welcoming. As the great Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.“
How I Plan To Do Better:
Listen to and amplify more BIPOC voices.
I thought I was listening to diverse voices before last week… but it has become so clear that I wasn’t listening to nearly enough. Moving forward, I really need to make sure that the points of view I’m hearing in my daily life aren’t only coming from people who look like me. This is how we grow – and social media makes that easier than ever! It can be hard to make new friends and change our social circles, but it’s not hard to click follow on Instagram.
In addition to listening, I’ve realized that I can do more to amplify these voices, especially in the influencer space. Not only should you guys know about them, but the brands I work with should know about them, too!
Actively seek out and feature Black owned businesses, Black artists/authors/etc.
I wasn’t doing this before and I apologize. If I can actively seek out female founded businesses and brands working on sustainability efforts, I can also seek out Black owned businesses to feature here. I want these businesses and creators to be integrated into gift guides, roundups, book club picks, and more!
Pay attention to where my dollars are going.
On that note, in addition to featuring these businesses, I will also put my money where my mouth is! Just the other day, I wanted to buy a few books about inclusion for my niece and nephews and I realized, “Why do I instinctually think to purchase from Amazon when I could purchase these from Semicolon – Chicago’s only Black women owned bookstore?”
In addition, I also want to pay attention to where bigger brands and corporations stand on racial equality and diversity. For example, I was extremely disappointed to hear about the culture at Reformation, a brand that I have very vocally adored. Unless they make some big changes, I will not be purchasing any new pieces from them. This might seem small, but if all of us vow to be conscious of who our money is supporting, we can make a statement.
Continue to speak up.
I’ve heard a lot of people mention how they’re nervous about when this momentum dies down and no one cares anymore. That isn’t uncommon – something happens, we are all outraged and motivated, and then 6 months from now, we aren’t talking about it anymore. It’s a valid concern.
I was brainstorming ways to hold myself accountable when I saw this post which was EXTREMELY helpful. I also decided that I am going to start a new series – something similar to my weekly email blast where I can share what I’m watching, reading, etc. This will give me a place on this platform to feature those Black owned businesses, along with BIPOC artists, authors, content creators etc… but it also gives me a place to link to articles about current events, petitions to sign, ways you can give back, etc.
Because while it sounds great to put together a bunch of posts like The Best Novels About The Black Experience, you can find those all over the internet – mostly by Black people who really know what they’re talking about! They deserve the credit for that work, not me. Instead this is a way to seamlessly integrate diversity into my content, not because it’s cool right now, but because they have genuinely enriched my life.
I almost forgot to include this one because I always make sure that I vote – but I have been guilty of overlooking smaller local elections. This is an area that I need to take more seriously and do more research every time.
Continue my education.
I have learned SO much… and it’s only been a little over a week. I promise to continue to share any books, articles, movies, etc that I find helpful – but in the meantime I’ve saved a bunch to my BLM highlight on Instagram. Here are a few I specifically recommend:
This documentary discusses mass incarceration and how systemic racism and oppression lasted beyond the Jim Crow years due to the War on Drugs and 3 Strikes Law. It also explores how we have been conditioned to view Black men as criminals, which is… tough to watch and recognize. It’s educational and impactful and I think everyone should watch it.
I started reading this thanks to my friend Christy, and I really like that it’s not just a book you read… it’s a book you DO. I know I’m not the only one who has been overwhelmed. This is a lot to process, and this book helps you process with journal prompts after each chapter.
I have found a lot of episodes of The Daily helpful over the years, but this week they’ve had some especially great ones. I specifically recommend The Systems That Protect Police and Why They’re Protesting.
This list features the best TV series, movies, documentaries, Ted Talks and books to help us better understand racism and the Black experience.
Danielle not only makes beautiful graphics, but her content is also extremely welcoming and educational. Just this week, she launched a 3 part video series: The Sin of Silence and God’s Heart for Justice, Taking Inventory and Assessing Implicit Bias, and Starting Conversations and Making Real Change.
If you haven’t watched his video called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”, you really should. He covers a lot of common questions and I found it really helpful to hear answers directly from a Black man.
Not sure how to talk about protesting or police brutality or anti-racism? This account gives you a framework of facts about each topic. I’ve found it to be a helpful resource so I know where to dive deeper in regards to specific topics.
A simple breakdown of what systemic racism means.
Rachel won’t sugarcoat things for you, but she will help you understand. This breakdown of why a well meaning comment is actually problematic was eye opening. A lot of her content is that way. She is also the founder of The Loveland Foundation, which has a Therapy Fund that provides financial assistance for Black women and girls seeking therapy.
While I think it will be helpful to read books specifically about race and anti-racism, I also want to read more novels by Black authors too!
If you are also a big Brene Brown fan, you’ll love this conversation with Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How To Be An Antiracist. She asked some really interesting questions, and his answers provided really amazing perspective that made me want to read his book and learn more. Have any of you read it yet?
Not only does Marie have the cutest smile ever, but she also created a few really awesome posts about things like how to respond to common racist statements and anti-racism actionable steps.
We watched this when it first came out and it hit me hard – I can only imagine how emotional it would be to watch it right now. For those who haven’t heard about it, it is a mini series all about the Central Park Five.
Have you found any other resources helpful this past week? What are your action items moving forward?