Black lives matter. What has been happening to black lives for centuries through systemic and institutional racism, injustice and police brutality is the defining civil rights and social justice issue of our time.
I stand with black people. I stand with being actively anti-racist and doing the work beyond when the outrage has ended and the protests have died down. Because that is the level of commitment that is required.
And here’s the truth — to do that, to stand with black people and end racism and police brutality, means that you will time and again reach the end of your earthly knowledge.
You might have reached it last week, when the cops killed George Floyd, and you realized the time to act is right now.
Maybe you’ve been at the end of your earthy knowledge for awhile. You’ve been chipping away at systemic and institutionalized racism for some time, and you realized you needed to do more.
I’ve been at the end of my own earthly knowledge many times in this lifetime, and again this past week when I saw I had failed to step up in confronting racism in our country. I had to check all the places where I, as a Chinese-American and non-black person of color, had not done enough or been complacent.
Can I tell you the great news about being at this junction?
If you are willing to figure out what is next, if you are truly willing to tackle this human rights issue, it means you will grow. If you are willing to learn, you will do things differently than before. If you are willing to get messy, everyone will rise.
When you commit to rising and to doing something differently than you’ve ever done it before, it also means you will fail. You will stumble. You will mess up.
What you need to do is not avoid failing — you need to fail fast.
I am committed to failing fast. To making mistakes, and instead of staying there, having the resilience to stand up and try again. Right away. Because it is that important, and that is how you stay in the work.
You don’t know what’s the next best step? Listen, and keep moving forward.
You don’t know how to examine your own privilege? Keep looking and educate yourself.
You don’t know how to tackle white supremacy in this country? If you’re white or a non-black person of color, start with yourself. When it’s tough, or you fail, keep going. Keep going until you understand all the ways you can dismantle racism.
What’s needed is more than knowledge. What’s needed is commitment. Commit over and over again.
Here are some steps I’ve been taking that you can take, too.
- Learn about defunding the police and why it matters.
- Donate locally to your Black Lives Matter chapter or donate nationally.
- Follow black activists who resonate with you, like Britney Packnett or Rachel Rodgers, and follow their lead. For folks in Seattle, we are home to the extraordinary Iljeoma Oluo. Follow her.
- Read books that teach you about race, nonfiction and fiction. Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys” is profound and deeply disturbing, and the best novel I’ve read this year. Iljeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” is a must-read. Here’s a good list of other anti-racist reads. Order them from a black-owned bookstore like Mahogany.
- Support local, black-owned businesses wherever you live.
Can you commit to failing fast? To being vocal, to being actively anti-racist, to making a difference that is long overdue? Chine in below with a YES. Let’s do it together.