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Be the change, one day at a time

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"Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society." —James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin

I believe it's safe to say at least half of the US population has been suspended between complete disbelief and grave disappointment this week. Emotions are reeling. Minds are racing. Questions swarming. There's a somber undertone looming just beneath the skies. Many of us have felt paralyzed by the Tuesday's events; however, there's much work to do. Work we can't do flailing or sulking. Give yourself space to process your feelings because they're valid. But we've all got a moral responsibility to create the world we want to live in. That's a tall order. There have been times when most, if not all of us, have struggled to find a starting point. No one has all of the answers, but there are simple ways to contribute and advocate for those whose safety is at stake. Here are a few practical, everyday methods to combat racism, hatred and xenophobia:

 

01 Be nice. Seriously.

Smile at a stranger, especially folks of color. The simple act of acknowledging someone can go a long way in a climate that has historically tried to erase us.

 

02 Share positive imagery.

Share positive articles, posts, news about oppressed, marginalized groups and people of color. Racism is systematic, as well as prejudice. Stereotypes run rampant, threading an undercurrent of hatred and biased, unjust judgment through the fabric of America. Share things that combat and challenge those negative narratives and rhetoric.

 

03 Embrace the youth.

Most of us have younger siblings, family members, or relationships with friends' kids. Pull them closer. Hold them. Talk to them. They understand a lot more than adults give them credit for. Correct behaviors and language that feed misogyny, colorism, racism, sexism, rape culture, etc. Do not be abrasive. Take some time, laying your parental/adult pride aside, to level with them. Meet them where they are and help them understand why certain language is harmful, even if they are "just joking." Expose them to something new. New music, new fashion, a new discipline, new hobbies. Give them productive, positive exposure to something outside of their little bubbles and comfort zones. These are the kids who will carry the torch. Spending time with them a significant investment into all our futures.

 

04 Be present.

Be present for folks who have been and are being targeted, threatened or abused. You don't have to be Clark Kent to help folks in danger, or folks dealing with the trauma after an incident. Showing up is "heroic." Stay at the scene with the person if you witness an incident. If someone you know is unfairly attacked, whether physically or verbally, reach out to them. Go for a walk. Bring or buy them food and listen. Don't talk. Just listen. It's not about you. That isn't the time to insert your own theories, pity or coddle yourself. Most times, no one actually listens to a victim. Listening makes people feel heard, seen, important, acknowledged, human.

 

05 Love harder.

Whatever your love language is, use it to love on folks in your life, folks you come in contact with, folks who show up for you. And especially folks who are on the front lines fighting for justice, rights and actively participating in activism.

 

06 Take care of yourself.

Unplug. Go for a run. Go for a walk. Pour yourself a drink. Find some friends and laugh about nothing. Netflix with some homies. Find community. Find whatever comforts you and bask in it. Your health and wellbeing matter. The fight begins with you. With me. We all have to be in good or at least moderate health to continue in this cause. That means listening to your body, caring for your mind and spirit. Give them rest. Feed them well.

 

We are in this together. It is natural to feel overwhelmed, but we don't have to conquer the whole world and all its wrongs at once. Change is the sum of small, daily, intentional efforts. Take it one day at a time.

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