This has been a rough week. I’ve experienced a range of emotions, from hope to sadness to anger to sickness to fear to confusion to helplessness. And I’m a straight, white middle class woman of privilege. I cannot even begin to imagine how other people, people whose life experiences differ vastly from mine, are feeling after this week.
But after a week of these mixed emotions, I’ve decided that it’s time to take action. Here are a few things I am doing to not only pull myself out of this despair, but also to hopefully make a positive contribution to our society. This article, that provided advice we can all take to be an ally for marginalized communities, sparked this post.
- Get out of the echo chamber: I am working harder than ever to make sure that I do not remain in an echo chamber surrounded by others who say and do exactly what I say and do on a regular basis. I am reaching out to ensure I have more diversity in my Twitter feed, for my own educational purposes. That means I have started reading resources from many people with viewpoints significantly different than mine. I’ve also made sure to read information written by people from all walks of life, to continue to educate myself on the challenges faced by Americans who are not straight, white women like myself.
- Refuse to stay silent: I credit this to not just the last week in our country, but also my age and leadership experiences. At this point in my life, I refuse to stay silent when I hear offensive, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, hate speech anywhere in my life. This does not mean that I plan to get into Facebook or Twitter wars with random strangers over ignorant comments posted anonymously. But it does mean that when I am interacting with people I know or work with or in personal situations in real life, I will not ignore hate speech or hateful actions. I will speak up. I will share my feelings.
- How can I show my support for you? I recognize that my life experience cannot possibly make me able to empathize with what so many other Americans are going through right now, from anger to fear to terror for their safety and the lives of their loved ones. What I can do is ask others how I can show support for them. As the article linked above advised, now is not the time for white people to stand up and try to take the lead on everything, but it is the time to show support. I recently had a conversation with an American friend of Middle Eastern descent who described situations he has encountered, with colleagues (who are educators, by the way), that were beyond horrifying and offensive to me. What I said to him was, “If I had been there, what would you have wanted me to say and do to show my support of you?” It led to a valuable conversation.
- Contribute where I can: I, like so many others, do not have endless amounts of time to give to various causes. What I have done this week is make a financial contribution to the ACLU, because I believe in the work they do to protect the civil rights of Americans. There is a great quote about the ACLU in one of my favorite movies, An American President, that I was reminded of this week by a colleague (if you’ve never seen that movie, please go watch it ASAP!). I also made a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center for the same reason. I also plan to educate myself on peaceful demonstrations, actions, and other local events that I might be able to participate in in the future.
- Unplug and celebrate the positive: Of equal importance to the ideas listed above, I know for my own mental and physical well-being, it is equally important that I practice mindfulness and Rejuvenation. For me, that means unplugging from Social Media, practicing yoga and meditation, taking a walk outside in nature, and spending time with family and friends. That means enjoying music and movies and laughter and love.
These are just some of my reflections. What are you doing to make your corner of our world a more equitable place for everyone?
EDITED TO ADD:
- Attending the Women’s March on Washington: On January 21, 2017 I will be marching in Washington along with many other Americans who want our new Administration to know that women’s rights matter; that women’s rights are human rights. This is not a protest. This is a peaceful demonstration. I am honored to be able to attend such an uplifting event at a critical time in our history.