Female protester holding up a sign that says "I CAN'T BREATHE"

Black Lives Matter

What a month it has been. I’ve never been quite so conscious of living through a time that will go down in history. I can’t imagine witnessing a more iconic moment than the Golden Gate Bridge overtaken with protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter”, “No Justice, No Peace” and calling out the names George Floyd and Breonna Taylor again and again, demanding accountability and justice. 

I’ll keep this short, because this conversation isn’t about me, and I simply don’t know enough yet to speak in an informed and constructive way. I’m not eager to add my voice to this space because I simply haven’t done the work required, and I’m probably going to f*ck up. But I can no longer stay silent on this issue, so I am writing to you in my own imperfect way. Silence and inaction have been my crimes to begin with, and I don’t want to perpetuate those any further. 

Given the percentage of white women in this audience, I suspect I am not alone in having arrived much too late to this conversation of racial justice.

The simple fact is that, until this month, I didn’t take any real responsibility in fighting for a more equitable future. Sure I’ve called people out when they’ve said ignorant things, and I’ve been horrified and heartbroken by the blatant injustice I see in the world. But I didn’t DO anything about it.

It’s an ugly truth to face, and grappling with my own guilt and shame (so I can get over myself and actually be of use) has been a big part of the last month for me. I found this video super helpful, and I highly recommend it.

To any black women or people of colour reading this, or to those who have been in the racial and social justice movements for a long time now, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get here, but please know I’m not going anywhere.

To those of you who are, like me, just getting started, we have a lot of learning and unlearning to do, and I hope you will join me. 

I’m passing on a few resource lists I found really helpful:

It’s possible you’re inundated with resource lists already, but these were two of the best I’ve come across, so I hope they will be of use. If anyone wants to talk about what they’re reading and watching, or create some structures around keeping this practice ongoing, let me know and I’d love to support each other. 

A few books I can recommend from personal experience are: Bad Feminist, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Homegoing, Americanah and Between the World and Me. So eye-opening and beautifully written you’ll be pulled right in and never see the world the same way again. And, of course, buy these from independent or black-owned bookstores if you can! 

Next up for me are So you want to talk about race and White Fragility. I know I’ll learn a ton, and that I may even look back on this very post and cringe at my own cluelessness. But such is the nature of growth and learning. It’s messy and uncomfortable and sometimes downright ugly. As always, the brilliant Maya Angelou’s words offer the necessary compassion and wisdom: 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

So here’s to learning and taking responsibility. And to having the self compassion to acknowledge the ways we’ve failed to show up in the past, and the humility to keep learning from the imperfect ways we are bound to show up in the present. 

With so much love, and a whole lot of hope,

Karen 

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