Today’s letter to my white friends

Today, in the midst of other responsibilities, I’ve been struggling to write this post because I felt compelled to continue speaking up. However, I find that a clear pattern is emerging – what I think I’m going to say, and what I try to say, and what I ultimately end up saying, are often quite different.

Instead, I’m going to share the second half of what I did write because I do believe it’s helpful and might serve as guidance for others.

As I dip into the training that Iโ€™ve received over the years โ€“ in clinical psychology, mindfulness, and horticulture (while accepting that the information Iโ€™ve received is inherently biased), I ask myself the following questions drawn from my perspective as a scientist/practitioner:

  1. What information and education do I need to work productively as an antiracist? How can I access this knowledge from competent, reliable sources, ideally from BIPOC leaders, and as much as possible, directly, unfiltered, from each source?
  2. What skills do I need to continue building to support my antiracist work? And where can I gain them? To which professional resources do I need to turn?
  3. How can mindfulness and self-compassion practices, and other well-established forms of self-care, be utilized so that I am able to minimize my reactivity, engage in skillful behaviors, and accept (while I work toward change) the least comfortable parts of myself? Of our history? About our nation?
  4. Can I use these skills to identify when I fall into all-or-nothing thinking or self-shaming about my own flawed nature? When I seek to make excuses because honesty feels too painful? Can I use my mindful and self-compassion skills to soothe and extend kindness to myself, in the hopes that by doing so, this will allow me to work more skillfully toward the dignity and liberation of all human beings – especially within our Black community?

I have no more to say because at this point it is essential to center Black voices. But small action steps – if you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend buying How to Be an AntiRacist and The Inner Work of Racial Justice, and diversifying your social media feeds immediately by following organizations such as the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and Showing Up for Racial Justice (a white-led organization that is also doing good work).

That’s a start, for today.

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