This week on my Work+Love Livestream, I shared about an article I had read that inspired me to action. The article was by Dr. Taharee A. Jackson and is titled, “I’m White and I’m Outraged by Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder. Now What?” The article provides a practical guide for white allies and accomplices. When I found Dr. Taharee’s article, I was in a space where I felt helpless. The recent event had caused an undeniable stirring with me, one that I knew I could not suppress.
I had become overwhelmed by the numbers of calls to action, the amount of passionate voices was inspiring but on some level intimidating. This led me to begin seeking a genuine starting place for me and my journey. I want to genuinely step up my game and be a catalyst of change. To be able to use my work and my platform, to help organizations and leaders change these systems that have resulted in a pure lack of humanity.
For years I have questioned decisions within organizations that reflected a clear disregard for what’s right. For years I have debated with leaders on the matter of ethics and business, hearing the counterargument that education is not needed because we all show up and do the right thing. For years, I have heard how my call to see the reality of our times was too dark and pessimistic, when really it is the truth for many. Our current times are showing us the results of choosing to not see and not listen, to live a life out of convenience because you can. Personally, I found myself in place of shame and vulnerability for not doing more all these years and that is not how I choose to continue moving forward.
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I rested up. I slept real deep. I gave myself permission to laugh and be loved on when my black joy felt like the only resistance I could muster at the moment. • The statement was made by @staceyannchin that between covid19 and the gut wrenching experience of fighting for our lives, black people can’t seem to catch a breath. So in protest I inhaled and exhaled my way through the last 48 hours. Determined to catch air to be able to continue in the fight. We are not backing down, we are not letting the system exhaust us into submission. We show up again & with strength. For ourselves and each other. • The words of freedom fighters in the past have fortified me. They always have — my bookshelf bursts at the seams with what I call love letters from Angela Davis, Mary Church Terrell, Florynce Kennedy, Fannie Lou Hammer. If you don’t know these names, google them – we all need their voices. • This week was supposed to be the official launch of my new bookstore & writing centre. It’s called @elizabethsofakron. I decided that it’s role here and now is less about the celebration of its birth but more so the application of its intent. • If you head to the link in my bio my team and I have curated a #Revolution Book List that is shelved on the virtual site of Elizabeth’s right now. It will be added to and updated often so that the words that are ringing clear and true and with urgency in my ears can do the same for you. Books are for purchase starting now. The books I handpicked for this list are excellent resources as you deep dive into my equation mentioned in my public address on Revolution: Knowledge+Empathy+Action. • What’s best is that a percentage of all book sales (those on the #Revolution reading list and all others) purchased through @elizabethsofakron will be donated to @thelovelandfoundation — where we work to provide free mental health care services to Black’s women and girls and I can’t tell you how critical this is for the black women and girls who are existing in the US right now more than ever. Often the rock of families and communities I am committed to fortifying black women again & again & again. • Big love, Rachel (follow @elizabethsofakron)
It was this Instagram post, along with many others, encouraging the necessary self-care these incredible voices need to continue leading and inspiring the action for change – that reminded me that change will not happen overnight. Despite how much we want it to, the systems we are discussing dismantling are deeply rooted. So for true change to possible, we must all prepare to be committed to the long haul. That’s what I am seeking, how can I show up indefinitely to assure that the state of normal we once embraced never returns.
What You Can Do
Dr. Taharee provides six-steps for what we can do. These steps have served as my framework to get started, focusing heavily right now on Steps 1 and 2. But Steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 are still actively in process as well. I want to take a moment and share with you how these steps are manifesting for me currently, in hopes to inspire you to not do the same as me but to do something. Find your path and way moving forward.
Start with Yourself
“Do you even know what kind of White you are?”– Dr. Taharee
When I read this question, my answer is no. I personally have not done the work necessary to fully process my racial identity or my racial experiences.
My friend, Tony Hernandez, recommended the following two books as a place to start unpacking my racial identity. I am patiently awaiting their arrival.
Start with a Story
“What we’re asking you to do is to genuinely open your ears to what it means not to be White so you can better understand what you are free not to think about each time you leave your home or have an encounter with the police.”-Dr. Taharee
My bookshelves are now being populated by the voices sharing their stories. I started following @bookishandblack on Instagram. I loved this post that added some fun reads to my list.
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✨more recs by Black authors✨ this set focuses on something that I think is just as important- fun reads! Fun memoirs, romances, literary fiction. As you continue your education and strive to read more about Black culture, that shouldn’t only include Black pain and struggle. Read about Black people doing ordinary everyday things, like falling in love and going to school. I recommend and loved all of these (the only two I haven’t read yet are Retta and Gabrielle Union’s memoirs, but I am confident that they are great because those women are great. happy reading! #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #blacklivesmatter #blackjoy #blackbookstagram #blackauthors #readblackauthors #diversespines #diversebooks #bookish #bookishandblack #igreads #shelfie
Here is my current reading list…
Start with Statistics
I have subscribed to Anti-Racism Daily: Your daily reminder to dismantle white supremacy. This daily e-newsletter is beautifully curated and provides links daily to dozens of articles and resources that provide the numbers, the statistics, the data that some need in order for you to start a conversation on why change is necessary.
Start at Home…
Start at Work…
Regardless of where you are in your own work, which is absolutely necessary and should be continued. We need to start today doing what we can to dismantle current thought processes that allow racism to continue. Therefore, our silence can be no longer at home or at work, when the conversation arises you must verbally take a stand. These moments are with the ones you love the most, your children, your parents, your spouse, your friends – start with your inner circle. You must serve as an advocate making it known that the current status quo of how we function is not okay and should not be the path forward.