07 Jun “It’s not a moment, it’s a movement”
I’ve started this newsletter about a dozen times. I just keep starting it again and again because I’m not exactly sure what to say. I had a plan for what I wanted to say but that all got thrown out the window when I woke up on Monday morning. There’s a needed revolution swelling up all around us and I want to say something but I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing. What do I know about Black Lives Matter?
During COVID I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Talking to Strangers.” It was my introduction really (or maybe the first time I paid attention) to the Black Lives Matter movement. He talks about the death of Sandra Bland and it literally made me sick to my stomach. For about 10 days I’ve been feeling pretty nauseous. I didn’t know why. This past Monday nausea came back. And then I connected some dots. I’ve felt like I’ve known my whole life that a lot of the ways we go about things are wrong. I just don’t have the words, the playbook, or the know-how to address it.
Understanding how to be a part of this evolution feels to me hard and complicated. I’m so afraid of saying the wrong thing, businesses and leaders are afraid of saying the wrong thing. What if I make it worse? What if it stirs something up in our organizations? So people don’t say anything, for fear of doing it wrong and making more work for themselves. But what I’m learning this week is that that feeling of doing it wrong or making more work for yourself pales in comparison to the years to years of institutionalized racism and discrimination fellow human beings have faced.
This quote slapped me in the face last week.:
“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action” — Martin Luther King
And so where do I start? I do my inner work. Doing my work to “unlearn” so far looks like lots more conversations with the people, reading, watching, listening.
At Better Your Best we preach courageous conversations. People avoid hard conversations because they are just that, hard. A conversation around bias, fears, racism, and inclusivity is even harder. But until we have these conversations and do this work nothing is going to change.
Bettering our best starts with self-awareness and a willingness to constantly be growing and changing for the better. First, start by noticing your thoughts and words on how you speak to yourself and how you speak to others. Then extend this by challenging or supporting the people in your eco systems-their biases, racism, and conditioning to go inwards and to “see” with new eyes.
No more deaths, no more discrimination, no more racism. Do your work.
Together we can do hard things and be a part of the movement.
Black Lives Matter and how you can “Unlearn”:
- HEAD / HEART / HANDS: earlier this week, we observed a Harvard Business Review webinar with guest Laura Morgan Roberts, professor of practice at the Darden School of Business and co-editor of “Race, Work, and Leadership”, and who also just published this article on HBR (US Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism). The recording of the event can be viewed here.For professionals and leaders in the workplace, Roberts offered that we need to search our head, heart, and hands.HEAD – Acknowledgement: commit to a process of lifelong learning. Look at how race has shaped the economy, democracy. Learn about it. We’re in the middle of two pandemics right now, racism being the other. HEART – Affirm: listen non-judgmentally to someone else’s experience. Work on what is making you defensive when you don’t understand their expression of their experience. HAND – Action: as far as this goes, the lists are endless right now. A few suggestions from Roberts: Investments towards racial justice organizations. Divestments from those that don’t support. Terminate partnerships with those who work against those values. Find the courage to be Anti-Racist. Any act of speaking up involves courage.
- GET ORIENTED TO TERMS: Better Your Best Associate Candace offers that Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity strategies are intended to mitigate risks surrounding discriminating against anyone for any reason, including race. The most important aspect of any D&I strategies is the inner work – examining our own beliefs, unconscious biases, etc. and confronting our contributions, individually and collectively, to systemic racism. Some resources: The Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion; the Diversity & Inclusion Certificate from eCornell; the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training.