Awareness, Understanding, Respect

So it has been a minute since I’ve put my thoughts down in writing. Like most of you, I have felt that I almost had so many thoughts I was having trouble organizing them.

But we have to start somewhere.

When the race conversations sky rocketed to the front of everyone’s mind, my first thought was, “I need to learn more.” While I knew what I knew and what I felt, I knew this was bigger than my limited knowledge.  In my personal life and at Pressing Onward, we have been fighting racial inequity (specifically in schools and instruction) long before the murder of George Floyd…but I knew I still needed to learn.

The week after the video surfaced, I started a Round-Table Discussion Group with some amazing women – 3 white, 3 Latina, and 3 black. Empowered, bright, valuable women. The goal was first: to learn, and second: to take some actionable steps.

And learn I have.  The conversations haven’t always been easy, and I have certainly felt some uncomfortable moments. Here are my first main take-aways right now:

1)This will be an ongoing learning process, and that’s okay.

2) Systemic racism is everywhere – in schools, justice system, economic systems, media…everywhere. 

3) If something is offensive to someone, my immediate response should not be defensiveness, even if my intentions were not outwardly harmful. I need to listen and build empathy.

I still feel as if these words are inadequate for the lessons I’m learning, but we have to start somewhere. More will come and what I’ve learned and the actionable steps we are taking, but let’s commit to continue to #leadinlove, listen with an open heart, and stand up for what is right.

There is a learning curve that some have defined: awareness, understanding, respect. Where are you? If you don’t think there is a problem, I encourage you to move out of your immediate circle, and gain awareness. If you have had an enlightenment as to the state of racial inequities, sit deeply with that awareness, until you have an understanding of it. And then respect the “other side”. Once you have an understanding, it’s then time to make a paradigm shift (as my friend, Dr. Shauna Sobers says) and respect those who are in the fight. Only then can we start to align ourselves.

And Pressing Onward will continue to advocate for the precious marginalized kids who walk though the doors of schools (or computers) daily.

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