Back in April I wrote a blog about how hard it was for me to write. After 10+ years of writing a blog every 2 weeks, I had nothing… My previous go-to topics of about leadership, teamwork and effective communication seemed horrifyingly trite.
So here I am, 3 months later spinning in a sea of mixed emotions, confusing thoughts and overwhelming sadness. For many, the isolation of Covid 19 forced us to examine our lives, re-evaluate and recalibrate to what’s really important. And while many of us had a brief respite of a sense of normalcy, aka, getting haircuts, eating out, going to the gym, we’re paying the price for re-opening too soon and are forced into semi-lockdown again. We didn’t learn our lesson, did we? Back into “time-out, kids!”
And just when we thought the overwhelm of isolation and facing our fears of Covid 19 couldn’t get any worse, we were whacked on the side of the head, yet again, by the brutal murder of George Floyd, forcing us to hold the mirror up, in a whole new way, to take a hard look to see who we really are.
We’re reminded by replays of an avalanche of cell phone videos of George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, Breonna Taylor and blatant demonstrations of just how rampant racism is in our country.
I didn’t want to write about this…
… But I can’t help myself.
I remember when I heard the term “white privilege” for the first time several years ago. I was defiant, defensive and … ignorant. NOT ME!
Fortunately, my friend, who was trying to explain it to me, was patient, compassionate and insistent, that I be educated about it. Fast forward to 2020 and I’d like to think that I was educated, open-minded and aware. But holy moly. I’d only scratched the surface of what I’m learning now.
For many, the Covid 19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement converged to create the perfect storm of raising the awareness of systemic racism in our country.
I hate to admit this, but I’ve come to realize that I have so many unexamined “inherited conversations.” Conversations taking up space in my head that were my parents’ or grandparents’ perceptions of African Americans, Jews, immigrants, poor people, vulnerable populations, to name a few maligned groups.
It’s embarrassing. And humbling. I sat in overwhelming sadness and awe as I listened to George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, speak to the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing on policing and law enforcement accountability. Here is a man who lost his brother to unspeakable brutality. And yet he had the grace and trust of a system that had tragically failed him and his family and saw the goodness of people to take action beyond that to create a better world. I was in awe of his grace, compassion and hope.
His words opened my eyes to see just how much I don’t know or understand… and how intolerant I have been… not necessarily based on my own opinions, but the inherited conversations of my ancestors. I’ve had to step back and assess and test my own opinions and underlying presumptions and assumptions. And while it’s very uncomfortable, it’s also liberating.
So here are a few of the resources that I’ve found that are helping me with my journey to be more educated, aware and pro-active in ending systemic racism in our country.
1619 Podcast – from New York Times author Nikole Hannah Jones
Where Do We Go From Here – a 2-part conversation with African American thought-leaders, including Stacey Abrams, Eddie Glaude, Ava DuVernay and Bishop William Barber.
Just Mercy – A true film about Bryan Stevenson an attorney seeking justice for death row inmates
13th – A Netflix documentary about criminalization of African Americans and the prison system.
I’m Not Your Negro – Netflix documentary by author James Baldwin about his friendship and relationships with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.
We are in unprecedented times and have a unique opportunity to take actions that can transform our futures – personally and organizationally.
Five years ago, when I wrote From Type A to Type T: How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom Line World, I outlined a process for choosing who you want to be/what you want to be known for and how to translate that on an organizational level.
I invite you to take a look at your inherited conversations.
How have these conversations shaped your life and who you are? As a parent? In your community? At work?
And are these inherited conversations still relevant?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Reply here: https://alteringoutcomes.com/inherited-conversations/#respond
Marty Stanley, Certified Speaking Professional, believes it’s time for transformational leadership. To learn how more about being a transformational leader and leader of the future, contact Marty today for coaching opportunities, group training or organizational facilitation. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.alteringoutcomes.com, 816.695.5453 858.432.6764 https://www.linkedin.com/in/martystanley