(I posted this originally as a personal Facebook status, but because it has resonated with so many people, I wanted to make it more widely available for sharing.)
I’ve been struggling for words to add to the conversation revolving around the recent exposure of the prejudice and violence endemic in this country. And I realize, I don’t have to add to the conversation; I just need to listen better to what is being said.
Our refusal to engage in other people’s realities and listen to their stories is what truly divides us in any situation. A lack of compassion always divides.
I’ve spent the last few weeks just trying to listen, trying to build my compassion in an area where my knee jerk response is often one of self-protective denial. I encourage you to do the same.
I’m linking some of the resources that have had the most impact on me.
Read this excellent article on brain chemistry and the science of unconscious racial prejudice - no one is exempt from this. Consider it an invitation to live a more examined thought life.
Here is some context that outlines the corruption and systemic oppression specifically in St. Louis County. It’s a very long article, but well worth the investment.
If it helps build outrage against corruption to hear about it through the lens of a couple of guys who can’t be labeled as “thugs” or dismissed for “resisting arrest,” this is a very good example of what American citizens are up against, when they seek justice from a self-protective system.
Amidst all the depressing stuff I read, I was incredibly encouraged by this interview of police chief Kelly McMillin, in Salinas, CA, about how he is training his staff to de-escalate events and build trust in the community that his force truly serves.
I also appreciated this culture piece that points out how difficult good policing is, and that not everyone is qualified to do it, just because they can pass all the tests.
A four-part, time-intensive read that is well worth contemplating is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations.”
The twitter hashtags #alivewhileblack and #crimingwhilewhite are illuminating. This WaPo article highlights some of them.
As a parent, it’s important to me to talk explicitly (and age-appropriately) with my kids about racism and prejudice. These two articles have thoughtful, research-backed strategies for navigating such conversations.
Keep reading, keep listening. Choose compassion.