Several weeks ago, one of my interns told me our I Am Priceless community needed to hear from me. In a time of painful social unrest, many are feeling the impact of hatred and disconnection. They needed to hear from a leader they respected. As one who understands the power of words, I was unwilling to quickly toss words onto a page. I needed time to sit with my thoughts and experiences. I wanted to talk with my friends of color and truly hear their experiences. As much as I craved this time to listen and process, there were pressing matters within my personal world which needed my immediate attention.
The past couple of weeks, I have been able to carve out some much needed time. While my traumatic experiences were not racially motivated, they did stem from ignorance, inequality, selfish desires. They were unjust and have negatively impacted my physical, mental and emotional well being. I didn’t have anyone to speak up for me, or fight for me. Even after I found my voice and the courage to use it, I have been discredited. So I do empathize. I do understand the importance of speaking up and standing alongside my friends of color, and all who experience inequality. Here are my thoughts…
I came across Brene’ Brown’s quote: “Connection- The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Connection is essential to human life. It is part of our most basic survival. We need each other, and we need to feel seen, heard and valued. We often stay in unhealthy relationships simply because we fear disconnection. It is imperative for each of us to see, hear and value one another.
As a Caucasian female, I haven’t experienced being followed through a store because a store clerk thought I looked like I might steal something. I can walk into the store in my pajamas and no one treats me inferior. When I pursued higher education, no one said, “I didn’t know ‘your kind’ went to college.”. Yet, these are just a few of the real life stories in my community, from my friends.
When each of us choose to be curious, and extend compassion, we can begin to see, hear and value one another. Even if we have different life experiences which frame our perceptions, injustice is unjust. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -MLK, Jr. When we walk away from the political and media propaganda which spurs emotional responses; we can be open to real live conversations. We can truly see, hear and feel someone’s experience. The real live conversations I have recently had, left me painfully aware of how vulnerable my friends of color often feel.
Friends, to truly connect with one another, to connect within our families, communities and country, we must be willing to look at our learned biases. We must be able to give and receive without judgment. We should want to check our beliefs and thoughts for stereotyping, prejudices, and yes, discrimination. To heal, we need to unite mind and heart. Quite often, it is our minds (our thoughts, our beliefs) which need to adjust. Then we can at least empathize, and hopefully, extend compassion for those who are experiencing racial discrimination, and other inequality.
There are good, whole-hearted people of all races. People who are outraged at the senseless murders and grief stricken at the rioting and looting. We want to help bring unity, connection, not more division. It is human nature to get louder when we think we aren’t being heard. “A riot is the language of the unheard.” – MLK, Jr. It is beyond time to see, hear and value one another. Be kind humans. We can be Caucasian and speak against racial injustice. We can use our voices to speak truth and stand in defense of others. We can choose to extend love and kindness; to “Be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Mohandas Gandhi
I will say it. Yes, yes, yes Black Lives Matter! Yes, Black lives are priceless. And, from my perspective, we all matter. We are all priceless. Yes, I might make a mistake, I might uncover another learned bias. But I want Connection; and I’m willing to seek out truth. Namaste Friends, I see and honor the divine in you.