The world is a lot right now. To state the obvious, police in America are acting like people of color don’t have rights and deserve to be treated like they are less than human. That isn’t right. It isn’t treating people with the inherent respect that we all deserve because we’re human beings.
No one is born to hate. We learn it. And it’s screwed up that an institution that is meant to serve and protect all people is being used to enforce racism and hate across a nation.
There are a ton of suggestions out there that I’m sure you’ve heard about to make changes happen, from donating to charities to joining in the protests. All of those can be great ways to help make changes in our society and I encourage you to do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
But a lot of change can also happen in smaller ways, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
- Acknowledge your own bias. We all have bias towards something, but we can’t work on changing these biases if we don’t acknowledge that they exist. White fragility comes from a place of being defensive, and denying that these biases exist, and that doesn’t help us talk about racism or solve any problems. Acknowledging these things at least allows us all to come together and have conversations about this.
- Actually listen to others. It’s so common in conversations to not listen to each other. It’s like we just wait for our turn to speak, which isn’t listening to what the other person is saying. If you’re having conversations with someone who has another experience than you do, actually listen to what they are saying. You don’t have to tell them a time in your life that you feel relates, because that may actually undermine what they are sharing with you. Validating can mean simply saying “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
- Don’t assume. Just because you’ve had an experience doesn’t mean that applies to everyone. The same goes with everyone else. Acknowledging that other people may not have had the same experience as you can go a long way to being able to hear other people’s stories.
These things may seem small, but they are all about connecting to each other. Connection is a huge factor when it comes to the relationships that we have with other people, and it shouldn’t be discounted. When we actually connect to others, there can be more understanding, and hopefully through that there can be less hatred and more empathy.