I’ve been wanting to say something but wasn’t sure how to say it. How would others receive it? Will it have a negative effect on my business? What will my friends think? If I was thinking these things as a black mother who has some skin in this game, surely a few of my white friends, colleagues, patients, and followers may be thinking the same thing! Well, here goes…just speak from your heart and speak UP against injustice and inequality.
Yes, it’s easier to repost, heck, I’ve been doing that through my tears, fears, and frustrations. What I want to say is that although my husband and I have reached a level of success in our careers to be proud of, it doesn’t mean we haven’t experienced racism on our journey to becoming doctors. My white friends have been surprised to hear our first-hand experiences with racial profiling, implicit and explicit bias, and downright hatred. They are surprised to hear that I worry about my kids walking to the public library after school on their own, not just for their safety but what should happen if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and approached by the police. Yes, we have had a conversation with our son, a black boy, teaching him how to act and react if questioned by the police and how the outcomes of those interactions may be vastly different from others solely based on the color of his skin.
So when asked what can you do to help? I ask that you stand by me and speak up against racism. It isn’t enough to say you are not racist because you have black friends.
Racism isn’t always obvious. It isn’t always violent, or loud, or public.
Ask yourself, have there been opportunities or invitations you haven’t extended because people with a different skin color wouldn’t “fit in”? Have you made an off-handed comment that perpetuates race-based stereotypes? Have you told a joke whose punch line was race-related? If you’ve never done these things, have you ever seen them happening and refrained from saying anything? How has your upbringing affected your thoughts or biases? Identifying them is the first step. Everyone has them and if you want to change them, acknowledging them is the only way.
Parent to Parent, hear me when I say it starts at home–it starts with you. Please talk to your kids about racism and normalize racial differences. Don’t pass along the narrative of colorblindness. It doesn’t exist! We’re human. We see differences. Those differences can be celebrated and pretending not to see them can prevent children from asking questions and starting conversations about race. The resources are out there. I also ask that you just do the right thing when you hear or witness racial injustice or hatred.
Remaining silent is no longer an option!
We can’t begin to address generations of systemic oppression and racial discrimination if we don’t understand and acknowledge it. Please educate yourself. Again, the resources are out there. Oh, and one more thing, please exercise your right to VOTE! We must elect candidates who will act on reform on the local and state level!
Thank you for listening–truly listening. Now use your voice and speak from your heart. We need you to be our ally for change for ALL of our children and their future.