So, how have those workplace conversations on race been going?
I have been incredibly stressed over the last weeks. Yes, the global pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism stress me out.
Of course, as an immuno-compromised caregiver, threat of potential exposure to life-altering disease is nothing new to me. And as a Black American woman, the threat of exposure to life-threatening bigots is nothing new, either.
What is new is this grand call to action for sweeping systemic change at all levels. In a few short months, we were all tasked with becoming public health experts in the face of gross misinformation from the U.S. government. In a few short days, many Black folks have been tasked with becoming subject matter experts in dismantling racism in America. These new responsibilities are all in addition to our already busy schedules.
That’s right. Decades of public health insufficiences and centuries of racial inequities are on the table and it’s up to Black America to solve it with the help of our newly committed non-Black allies and friends.
If you are like me, you may feel overwhelmed and under-qualified right now to fully address the deeply rooted issues at hand in a way that produces sustainable, systemic change. For some, tensions in workplaces, places of worship, and households are running high and relationships are being tested. (Although, for me, I refuse to engage with foolishness from people who don’t get it and have no desire to understand; keeps my blood pressure from rising.)
However, over the weekend, I was reminded of something after helping a fellow caregiver who reached out to me on social media and ushering my mother through a particularly difficult weekend: I am good at stuff. I am good at writing and telling peoples’ stories. I am a good communicator. I am a good teacher. I am a good student. I am a good facilitator. I am a good caregiver. I am a good cook. I am a good listener. I am a good friend. I am a good colleague. I am a good advocate. I am a good daughter.
I’m not perfect at anything. But I am good because I know I give these things my absolute best.
Things I’m not so great at (either because I don’t have the capacity/feasibility at the moment or because they are not one of my spiritual gifts): Arguing with people for hours on end. Posting to social media at the optimal times about all the poignant things. Reading lots of books in a short amount of time. Protesting in the streets. Doing economics homework.
There are people who are excellent at these things. And I may be pretty good at some of them someday if that is God’s will. But for now I choose to hold space by using my gifts and talents to affect the most change from within the lanes that I know. I know caregiving. I know healthcare. I know writing. It is from these places I will continue to remind people that Black Lives Matter and fight for representation and lasting change.
As time goes on we will know other things — including the most effective ways to dismantle racism — and we may have to switch lanes. After all, you cannot ride a 10-speed bike in the HOV lane. You’ll have to get a sedan or a sports car — whatever the situation calls for.
But for me, I will continue to bring the message the Black Lives Matter with me, no matter what lane I find myself in.