I am really struggling today. I am angry, hurt, frustrated and all around furious.

And here’s why.

Being black in America is hard.

Being a black woman in America is hard.

Being a mother of a black son & daughter is hard.

Being a wife of a black man is hard.

Being a daughter of a black mother & father is hard.

Being the sister, friends and family of black men and women is hard.

And here’s why.

There still remains the overt and covert existence of systematic oppression and racism in our country.  Yes, right here in America. The land of the free. But not so free for me or my sisters and brothers of color. 

It’s still a big problem and it’s becoming increasingly more of problem everyday. Which is why we really need to build community. Real community.  And in real community we don’t all look and act the same.  In fact, in real community we are different, we are seen, we are celebrated and we are embraced, regardless of our differences.

In real community, we look differently and we are valued and supported.

So today, I’m struggling because I’m reminded yet again how hard it is to be black in America. I am having a really hard time focusing on my pre-scheduled to-do list today. My sadness, rage and pain are clouding my focus for the day and I am constantly fighting back tears. And as I look at my children, the pain becomes deeper and deeper.

How am I suppose to focus on emails, blog posts, social media, my book EntrepreFriendships, which I’m incredibly excited about, when I’m mourning and heavy-hearted.

So instead I decided to write a blog post about the state of my heart, which is burning & is broken. And to use this post to be apart of the solution by sharing real ways we can create change.

I am so passionate about restoring hope, in you, in your business and in community. And right now, I want to focus on the hope in the community, because our community is broken and divided. And I specifically want to talk about hope in diversity, even more specifically diversity in race. Diversity of all kind is important, but for today’s conversation, I am talking about race. Something that needs more positive, solution-focused conversations around it. So here it is. And by the way, by “our community”, I mean man-kind, not only the black community.

Pause for a second, can we talk about something for a quick moment.

We need to come together, support one another and embrace our differences, not ignore them or assert that we are colorblind, that’s nonsense. There’s no way you don’t see my color and I’m not asking you not to see my color either.

I’m black. That’s no surprise. But, I don’t need you to be colorblind in order to accept or embrace me. And if you feel like you can’t or don’t need to acknowledge something that is apart of me so that you can then accept me, well that’s a part of the problem. I’m not ashamed of who I am and so I don’t need you to be either. And I don’t need you to pretend that you don’t see something that’s apart of me. I simply need you to embrace me regardless of my skin color, just as I do for you. So can we please stop with the colorblind nonsense. Okay, let’s continue on. Press play.

What can we do?

Some of you may be wondering what can we do?  How can we be the change we want to see?  What actions can we take that can make a real difference? Well, thank you for asking, because I have some suggestions (this is not a complete list, as there’s much more to do).

And this is not simply a list, but it’s instead an invitation. An invitation to actively participate in social change. It’s an invitation to actively, intentionally and respectfully support real community. So here it is.

Strategies that build unity in a broken community

Diversify your visual brand

If you say you love all people regardless of skin color, then why not show it?  What do I mean by that? I mean if I go to your Instagram feed and all I see are white hands and faces, then how does that communicate that you love all people? It tells me that you love all people who look like you. So if that’s how you feel, then can you tell me what type of community are you trying to build exactly?  One that is real, one that celebrates and embraces that people are different, or one where you feel most comfortable, because people look and act similar to you or to what you know? If you want to be the change you want to see, then start by reflecting more diversity in your visual branding.

Diversify your team

Take a look at your team, and that could include your business or in your personal life. How many of your team members are minorities?  How many of your close friends are minorities? How can you begin to understand and be compassionate to the concerns of minorities when they’re not apart of your team in some capacity? So this one is simple. Invite minorities into your circle, but not as the token minority. But instead, as someone you want to get to know and for them to get to know you. We learn so much from one another, but we have to be willing to extend the invitation and accept it.

Spend time together, get to know one another

This is similar to the previous suggestion, but it’s so important I had to emphasize it twice. Spending time with people who don’t look and act like you helps you debunk stereotypes, when you approach it with an open mind. It helps you to be more accepting, not simply tolerant, but instead accepting of others. And one of our primary needs as human beings is to be accepted.

Support causes for unity

You don’t have to start the cause, but you can certainly use your voice to support it and to share it. Don’t hide behind, “I don’t know what to say”, so then say nothing. Nope that’s not helpful. But instead, use your platform to make a stance, to stand up and bring unity. I shared this on my Facebook page today about my non-black friends who choose to stand with me:

When my non-black friends start sharing and talking about the oppression and racism in the black community…it makes me happy to know they really are my friends. Friends care about what you care about, even if they can’t relate. They will stand up for you even if it means they will be judged, embarrassed or ridiculed. They stand with you and they will strive to protect you. They will mourn with you and rejoice with you. Those are the only kind of friends I want. I don’t want lukewarm friends. I don’t want friends who are too uncomfortable with my discomfort that they lack compassion and concern for what makes me uncomfortable. Nope don’t need those kind of friends. Either you stand with me (even if you don’t fully understand or can relate, but because you love me and care about me) or you don’t and if you don’t…well, it’s good I know now. 

Extend the opportunity

If you’re apart of a committee, organization, group or anything that is in charge of bringing people together, supporting people, affecting people…basically anything that impacts people, and you don’t see any men or women of color, then that’s an issue. So, instead how about you invite them into the conversation. It’s not that there’s a lack of talent, skill, knowledge or selection of qualified, educated and articulate people to choose from, nope that’s not it. But instead, what often happens is we get overlooked and never even get the opportunity. Like my girl Viola Davis shared during an acceptance speech at the 67th Annual Emmy Awards, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”  And I firmly believe that when no opportunity exists, we have to fight for it and we sometimes have to create that opportunity, which is very challenging, but not impossible.

Donate to scholarship funds of victims of oppression

You may not be one to go and protest, but money can make a difference too. When you donate money to the victims of oppression you’re showing your support in a real and tangible way and that can be life-changing.

Participate & support organizations that support education, especially for minorities

I have a group text message that I’m apart of with my in-laws. It’s a great way for us to stay connected. And I asked for them to share with me some real and tangible ways to make change. And the sentiment was around education and I couldn’t agree more.  We need more equal and quality education for all people, not just those who are privileged to have the access to it. Thus, we must support programs that support the education of minorities, especially those in poverty. If we want to see change we need more education, which can help grant people who want to make changes the access to the roles that affect legislative and systematic change. It’s a process for sure, but we can certainly join the movement. I for one will be looking up specific organizations I can be apart of in addition to Gals Lead, which is a teen leadership and educational development program for girls.  I love the organization and have been a proud supporter for going on 3 years. I’ve also volunteered and served in various programs for youth. I know how much of a difference this can make. You don’t have to give a lot of your time, but some is better than nothing at all. And remember, money is always a great way to support any type of non-profit organization.

Practice Self-care

When we spend time caring for our heart and souls, then we show up as far greater human beings. We’re more capable of being compassionate, loving and accepting of others because we’re not projecting our inner turmoil on others. It takes a person with a lot of hurt and pain in their heart to attack, kill, discriminate and oppress another, period. No emotionally and spiritually healthy person does such a thing. We’re all dealing with our stuff and if we don’t deal with it, then it’s going to deal with us. If you need some examples of how this shows up in our world then, look at the news and you’ll see it clearly.

Extend More Compassion & humility

We need more compassion and humility, like we need salt and pepper to season our food. Without it, something just isn’t right. But in this case, the more compassion and humility you pour into your life and into the lives of others won’t give you high blood pressure, but will instead create for a safer world for us to live in. Call me what you want, but I believe we live in a world that is lacking in the compassion & humility department as well as love and grace and we need a whole lot more of all of it.

And please allow me to state some really important truths.

Yes, of course all lives matter

By addressing the oppression and pain of one does not mean I devalue the pain and suffering of another.  If your house is on fire do you want the fireman to show up and shout out, “All houses matter” and then do nothing.  No, of course not. Not because you don’t believe or agree that all houses matter. No, because your house is the one on fire. And do you want your neighbors to come out and say, but our houses matter too, when their houses are not the ones on fire? Of course, your house matters, no one ever said it didn’t.

But, you want them to come out and acknowledge that your house is on fire, that you need help, that they can be apart of that help and they can also comfort you too in this painful time. And you certainly don’t want anyone saying,  “All fireman matter”, as if you don’t know, believe and understand that. But, the point is, your house is on fire. And therefore it’s the one that needs to be helped at this time. And if your neighbors house was on fire, I would hope you would care enough to see that they need help too.

Don’t stay silent. Don’t stand and do nothing.  Right now we need one another. We need to come together.

We need to care about all lives and when I say “all” I mean all lives, but when I say black lives matter, I’m saying this because the systematic oppression and the current state of our community communicates otherwise. So we’re saying, hey, our house, that matters just as much as yours is on fire, can we get some help over here.

Yes, of course police lives matter

And yes we stand with those who honor and respect the uniform and uphold the promise to serve and protect. Thank you to those who risk your lives for us. Thank you.

And the killing of police…this is horrific. Police being murdered…horrific.
JESUS we need you Now!!!! And real unity is what we need. It’s not us against them or black against white…its about us coming together and being the change we want to see.

And in that process we must acknowledge what is reality, we must address the real issues, call out the injustice in every way and rise up against it all. We can’t do this divided…we must unite

What are your thoughts on real and tangible ways we can unite and become the change we want to see?

If you want to spread a message of hope, love, peace and unity, then please do share this one.

Be the change you want to see. 

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