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Time to leave your comfort zone: Change requires uncomfortable conversations

hands.jpgWhat was the last obstacle you faced, and how did you conquer it?

We overcome challenges every day and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Any time we are faced with a situation in which we don’t know the answer, it is often helpful to seek knowledge and resources from others.

I consider myself a resourceful person who does exactly that. When I don’t know a fact, my first response is “Oh, I’ll Google it.” If I don’t know how to complete a technical task, I watch tutorials on YouTube. If I can’t pinpoint the right word, I research synonyms at thesaurus.com.

And admittedly, when someone asks a seemingly easy question, my first thought is: “Have you looked it up?” In other words, I wonder if this person has tried to figure out the answer on their own prior to asking me. In fact, I even grow a bit impatient and annoyed if they haven’t.

But what happens when a solution cannot be readily met? What happens when the problem is bigger and more complex than a Google search or YouTube tutorial video? What happens when the problem is deeply rooted in a culture of privilege, hurt, or hate?

What then?

The Bigger Problem

In the recent events of racism and police brutality with Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, my heart aches. My empathy kicks into overdrive, and I feel all of the feels. I lift my quiet voice when I can -- usually in the form of writing, and I read and watch and absorb as much information, facts, and truths as possible -- but deep down I know it isn’t enough. 

Many agree that systemic racism needs to change, but I have seen an overwhelming number of my friends and family vocalize that they have no words and do not know what to do. Many of us are not inclined to be on the front lines of protests or rally in the face of confrontation. But the systemic change that needs to happen will require us to leave our comfort zones.

Your Contribution to the Bigger Solution

And so, I ask you to take one small step. The next time a friend or relative says something that is racist or exercises a form of white privilege, I ask you to say something. I ask you to speak up and inform them in a kind and loving manner that you disagree and why. I firmly believe change can happen, but it will require ongoing uncomfortable conversations and education.

Today I stand here with my empathetic heart and open mind. I want to hear and understand your stories. I want to discuss our different experiences and perspectives; knowing all of our voices will be heard in a safe and trusting environment.

And most of all, I want change. And I want to believe change can happen; it has to. And I believe we all play a part. My question is: Do you?

Related Item: Read the YNPN Twin Cities Statement on Philando Castile

Photo credit: “My hand in yours” (painting and photo of painting) by Kate Borman


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