Black Lives Matter: How Can We Help
I hate that racial fighting is still going on. I hate the discomfort of knowing that African Americans are being targeted by police, lawmakers, and White people across the country. I hate that so many of my White friends (and family) would rather debate than simply acknowledge. I hate that there’s a sense of us vs them that still exists today.
Our hope feels tarnished at times but I can’t help but hold onto my hope because this feels different. The catalyst of yet another gruesome death at the hands of those ‘sworn to protect’ has an entire nation marching. Hundreds of thousands of people peacefully making a statement only to be met with a harsh government response are ingredients for permanent-lasting-generational resolve toward change. If protestors had been placated, I can’t help but think the majority of unaffected people may have returned to normal and not fought for change. But a young White protestor dying due to tear gas and an elderly White protestors knocked unconscious who ended up in critical (yet stable) condition during peaceful protests are examples of how the Adoption Curve is growing. The majority of this nation can’t help but become interested in seeing this cause through.
The Black Lives Matter movement is charging toward a new level of US acceptance of equality. But how can we help it outside of the protests? Sometimes, we have to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. For example, something wonderful happened in my office last Monday. We had a company-wide Zoom meeting in which the topic was racial inequality and Black Lives Matter. The discussion was slow to start and unshockingly awkward. At least eight minutes passed in silence until someone eventually broke with stories of personal experience. There were moments of anger and confrontation, but also of tears shed from both Black and White co-workers. There were moments of shared understanding and at the end, a push to figure out how our small office will become part of the solution. This is a micro picture of how macro change will take place in our country. The existing frustrations must be given a space to come out, be understood and then acted upon. This is the first time in my life I have been a part of a meeting of this nature, where racial pains were given space to be heard.
It is always hard to discuss pains with others, it is always awkward at first, but it will always be the first step in finding a solution.
Written By: Clay Coppage, LICSW