Go On, Get Up. Really, You’ll Be Ok
I’m not talking about getting off your sofa or suggesting you need to start working in the office now instead of your bed. The comfort zone I’m talking about is the mental one and even more specifically – the one where you don’t believe that racism is still a thing. I get it, I too tried pretending that racism wasn’t still baked into our societal fabric – it was only fringe. That allowed me to go on with my white privilege and feel that as long as I was not racist, I was doing enough.
Except it isn’t enough
I admit, I was naive and enjoying the privilege of keeping my head in the sand. The last few months have brought home to me just how insidious prejudice is in this country. It’s hard getting all the sand out of my eyes. It’s uncomfortable. It makes me feel like I did something wrong. And I just don’t want this to be the world we live in.
Then I Went Shopping
I have been reading, watching, and listening to the stories and voices of black people. My understanding of their experiences is growing. One moment that stands out to me was when I went to take a dress back to the store – the clerk had forgotten to take the security tag off. As I walked into the store, I knew it would be different had I been a woman of color. I fully expect that instead of smiling and accepting that I was there to get the tag off a dress I bought if I had darker skin the woman at the front would have reacted quite differently. Yes, I had brought the receipt, but I would bet serious money that being a white woman I didn’t really need to.
Maybe the clerk would have smiled and accepted a woman of color’s story too. It isn’t so much about the clerk’s reaction as it is about that other, darker-skinned shopper’s experience. She would have been sure to have the receipt with her, probably held out right in front as she entered the store.
What Does This Have to Do With Transitions?
This topic might seem a bit odd for this blog. But it has everything to do with transitions. My current (and probably life-long) transition is going from not racist to anti-racist.
Did I mention it’s uncomfortable? Like most people, I’m not a huge fan of being uncomfortable. But I also know that change rarely occurs when we choose to stay comfortable.
Make Peace with Discomfort
Change of any kind is scary. But scary doesn’t have to be bad. Think of all the times you’ve gone through changes that ended up being pretty darn good. I can think of a few – becoming a parent, moving to the East Coast, changing careers (three times.) Here are some of the things that can make any transition easier:
- Don’t compare and despair – you can’t change the past, and you can’t change other people. Stay focused on what you are doing and why you’re doing it and leave the rest behind.
- Start now. Too many times we put things aka “when X happens, then I’ll do Y.” If it’s important to you, find a way to start now, even if it is just one little thing. It all counts.
- You can’t fail – you can only learn. I’m reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
- Don’t go it alone. There are so many resources out there (like the ones I share). Find reliable things to watch, read, and listen to and connect with people who can help.