Black lives matter. We're not saying that other lives, other races don't matter. We're not saying that we are anti-police. We personally know and appreciate several officers who are committed to doing the right thing on a daily basis. We're saying that right now, Black people are the ones who are in pain, in danger, and dying at disproportionate rates due to systemic racism in our country, which has only been compounded by the Coronavirus.
We are all people, in pursuit of happiness, in a country that is supposed to be free. No one should live in fear of going for a jog, being murdered in their home, birdwatching in a park, or being choked by a police officer because their skin is black, not to mention the multitudes of other life-threatening actions, microaggressions, and everything in between that have been unfortunately woven into the fabric of our country's past and present.
To our Black friends, colleagues, and clients: We see you. You are important. Your life matters. It's time to dismantle racism - in ourselves, our families, our sport teams, our schools, our workplaces, our communities, and our country. We recognize there's no longer a place for being "not racist" - it's time to become anti-racist. We also acknowledge that actions speak louder than words.
Much like athletes gearing up to perform at the best of their ability, we've been behind the scenes these last few weeks doing some work. We have started unpacking our privilege to understand it and use it for good, speaking up on social media in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, engaging in conversations with friends and family around racism, reaching out to Black friends and colleagues, wearing shirts with positive messages as a visual reminder as we walk in our local park, paying attention to brands and organizations and how they are responding to this movement, and educating ourselves by listening and seeking to understand the lived experiences of Black people. We have stopped turning a blind eye to racism, expecting Black people to educate us, and being silent.
Right now, the Black community needs us, especially those of us who are white and white-identifying, to speak up. To learn about anti-racism. To listen. To demonstrate solidarity. To amplify Black voices. To be the change.
If you're with us, let's explore what we can do:
(...and for anyone who has been silent, it's not too late to begin this work.)
- Reach out to the Black people in your life. Before you do, read this.
- Approach learning with a growth mindset. Be willing to do the work and put forth effort. Listen, learn, then listen some more. Embrace challenges and being uncomfortable. Even when you make mistakes, keep going. Be open to feedback. When you learn something new, reflect on it, how it applies in your life, and what you want to start, stop, or continue doing because of it. The Association for Applied Sport Psychology has compiled an extensive racial justice resource list as a starting point. Or if you prefer some structure, you can invest 10, 25, or 45 minutes a day.
- Have conversations with your friends and family about racism. This is a great opportunity to listen to what other people are going through, ask open-ended questions ("what" or "how"), and help educate based on what you've learned. Parents, it's time to start or continue talking to your kids/teenagers about racism. For the little ones, you can even enlist the help of Sesame Street. All of us likely have some unlearning to do, including common phrases that are actually racist. On social media, instead of posting "feel free to unfollow me if you don't agree," invite your friends, family, and other followers to have a conversation with you.
- Protest. Do so safely, or consider 12 other ways to be an activist, including some unexpected ideas like practicing self-care, if you don't feel comfortable participating in a protest.
- Donate. If you're looking for a place to give, consider Black Lives Matter (ending State-sanctioned violence, liberating Black people, and ending white supremacy), the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education), Campaign Zero (police reform and reducing violence through policy change), the Loveland Foundation (providing mental health support for black women and girls), or the Bail Project (combating mass incarceration through a revolving bail fund).
- Process your emotions regularly. We are all going to (continue to) feel a lot of things about these dual pandemics. One way to process is to engage in awareness, acceptance, and action.
Let's be intentional. Let's be consistent. Let's be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Finally, a powerful thought from physician and epidemiologist, Dr. Camara Jones: "Collective action is power. With all of us working together, I believe that we can dismantle this system and put in its place a system in which all people can grow and develop to their full potential."
If you have a resource we can share, have feedback for us, or if you'd like to share a conversation, let us know.
Abby & John