LaTasha Morrison, a speaker, author, reconciler, bridge-builder and leader, believes we should be practicing the four L’s: Learn, Listen, Lament, Leverage. Here’s what I’m doing now to start practicing this.
- Learn: Take a look at your platforms. Do you follow black people, or people of color in general? Balance the books. Make your platforms as diverse as possible. I’m not on Facebook, but Twitter is easy. Find diverse voices to listen to. I am following @dribram, @latashamorrison, @austinchanning, @deray, @michelleobama, @barackobama, and @blknunhistorian, among others. I stopped following individuals some time back, and now am re-adding individuals with an eye towards voices I haven’t listened to as well I as should have in the past. Also, there are lots of good books out there, but I suggest getting your list from a non-white person. See above, or there is also a very comprehensive list curated by black voices here.
- Listen: Zip it. Don’t give an opinion if you disagree with the new voices you hear. If you don’t agree, no one needs to know (and, sorry to be rough, but no one is probably interested). You will never fail to grow by listening.
- Lament: For me, this takes place mostly in prayer. Lament, or a passionate expression of grief or sorrow, including repentance, is important. But relational, even public, lament is also important. If you’ve done wrong, if you’ve done too little, if you’ve been complicit in something as huge as our institutional racism (and yes, very likely you were), or as localized but hurtful as not speaking up when racist discussions were happening, make it known. If you are a person of faith, yes, tell God, but confess to anyone you’ve hurt by your complicity, actions or inactions.
- Leverage: What can you do to act? This is a personal decision, but for me, one thing comes to mind quickly–where your treasure is, there is also your heart. Consider donating to causes that further the work of activism (for me, I am making sure I am giving to black-stewarded organizations). Maybe rethink where your dollars are going now; has your money been complicit too?
Recognize that you will do this imperfectly. That’s ok; do it anyway. When you screw up, or say something dumb, admit it, ask for foregiveness and try to do better. Our behaviors and attitudes will not be unlearned immediately.
But please, whatever you do, don’t stand still. Don’t atrophy further. Act.