This is one of the most important statements I have seen regarding how black and brown people are treated in their county. It’s from Van Jones of CNN:
”If you are white and are you watching this, look in your own life. How are you choking off black dignity? Choking off black opportunity? Choking off black people from asking an opportunity to thrive?”
The fact is we grew up in a system that is racist. That doesn’t mean we choose to be racist. It means we view the world through the lens of a system we didn’t know existed until we were old enough to think critically and see beyond it.
I know there are things I sometimes do with the words I choose or actions I take (or fail to take) that are affected by this programming and that perpetuate systematic oppression of people of color. Thinking about the questions Van has asked is a big step in changing that behavior.
I make that claim from experience. After my motorcycle crash, I made conscious choices to change things in my life. I chose to feel and express more gratitude. I chose to learn how to set worry and regret aside and live more often in the moment. I wanted to learn to listen more and interrupt less (something difficult in tech). I could list several more things as well.
In ALL cases, the change started when I became aware of the behavior I wanted to change. Awareness starts with introspection. It starts with simply asking your mind to make you aware when you exhibit a behavior you want to change or to start doing. For example, if you want to feel more gratitude, notice when you feel grateful. Acknowledge it. State in your mind or ideally aloud and in a public forum your gratitude, and you will find more opportunities to feel grateful.
We all wonder what we can do to change a system from the inside, especially as a small part of that system. We can protest, we can make our voices heard, we can support organizations that can drive larger change, and we can vote.
We can also change our immediate world. You can do this right now by joining me in a pledge that I will spend time in reflection asking how I am acting because of the system I want to change. Do I think, speak and act in a way that is what the system wants and has trained me to be? I seek to become aware of this when I do so that I can examine my actions and chose a response based on what is right, not what the system has trained me to do.