How to Get Started If You Don’t Know Where to Start

And why "I'm busy" is no excuse for failing to fight for racial justice.

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash
Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

It’s been a hard week. Month. Year. 400 years.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Aubery. Breonna Taylor. Not to mention Christian Cooper and every other racist assault that doesn’t end in murder. And these are just the most recent. The one’s that made the news.

When you saw this email pop up in your inbox today, you probably weren’t expecting me to be writing about racial injustice. It’s not what I typically write about. But when I sat down to write this morning, it felt irresponsible to write about anything else. (And honestly, I haven’t been thinking about anything else anyway.)

You’re used to productivity and stress relief tips. And I promise. We’re gonna bring it around full circle. But right now, let’s take a moment to be angry that black people are STILL being killed in this country for no reason at all.

You might be thinking, yeah, I’m angry too! But what can I do about it??

As I’m so often telling my clients, we procrastinate when we don’t have a clear next step. When a problem, task or job seems big and overwhelming, we have a tendency to say to ourselves “I’ll get started on that tomorrow”. It’s amorphous, we’re not sure how to begin. So we just…don’t.

So, in that spirit, because systemic racism is one of the biggest, most overwhelming problems our country faces, I’m gonna help you out. We’re gonna talk about a few ways to just get started, from whereever you are. Yesterday, I saw someone post on Facebook about how they have done a lot of reading, but don’t see how they can add to the conversation without simply increasing the noise at best. I think that’s a cop out.

If you’re angry too, if you want things to change in this country, but you’re not sure where to start, here are just a few options:

  • This is a fantastic list of 75 Things White People Can Do to Fight Racial Justice. Pick one. Do it today. Then tomorrow, pick another. Make it even easier for yourself by just going down the list starting at #1. (And you can do this stuff if you’re not white too, but I’m betting I don’t have to tell you that!)
  • Read about race, read books by POC, and talk about what you’re reading with the people in your life. Don’t let money, or physical distancing, be the reason you’re not reading these books. The public library system in the US is amazing, and even if we can’t leave our houses to pick up physical books, we can use the free Libby app to access digital library books.
  • Listen to a podcast about race. Talk to your friends and family about what you learned. Code Switch is one of my favorites, but here’s a list of more options.
  • Watch 13th. It’s on Netflix. (And you’re probably done with Tiger King by now.)
  • Donate to organizations doing good work. This one takes almost no time at all. If the resource you have access to right now is money, not time, here’s a list of organizations you can donate to.
  • Talk to your kids about race. Do your best to raise anti-racist children. Not sure where to start? Here’s a resource to get you started.
  • Call your representatives and demand change! The 5 Calls app makes it so easy. Just input your zip code and it will give you the numbers of your representatives and even simple scripts for the issues you care about.

Action is the antidote. To a lot of things.

When we take action, we feel more in control. We feel less stressed. We are moving forward and making progress. (See, I said I’d bring it full circle!)

You don’t have to spend a ton of time. You don’t have to participate in protests. You just have to do something. Be anything but complacent.

And if you’re thinking “but I don’t have time for this”! “My life is so busy already.” “I’m working full time and I’m homeschooling my kids.” “I’m trying to figure out what to do this summer without childcare or vacations.” I get it. I do. What you know what? We don’t find time. We make time. Don’t do everything I listed, just start with one single thing. Spend just 5 minutes on one of the action above.

Many years ago I started to rid myself of the language “I didn’t have time.” Because it’s just not true. We all have the same amount of time. What I now say instead is “I didn’t prioritize that”. Not only does this language allow me to feel a bit more agency. But it also keeps me in check. I don’t want to look back and have to tell myself (or my kids), “I didn’t prioritize fighting for racial justice”.

For myself at least, I want to redirect even just a small part of my remaining productive energy to make things just a little bit better. If my house is a little dirtier this week, but I spend 30 minutes talking to my kids about race, I will have made the right decision.

What about you? What action will you take this week?

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