I really don’t know where to begin.
A part of me wants to rant about the senseless injustices -- big and small -- embedded within our society every day. Or try to make sense of the insanity that occurred on May 25, 2020.
A different part of me wants to write something inspiring about how the next generation will change our world for the better.
But that’s not why you come to me.
My guess is, if you’re reading this, you’re probably white.
That means you’ve never had to experience the implicit biases that my guest on yesterday’s podcast, Allen Yates, has dealt with his entire life.
Your parents never gave you “the talk” about how to interact with police.
You never feared for your life when the cops pulled you over for speeding.
You never felt society rigged the system against you, that you needed to put forth extra effort to get ahead.
We’ll never truly understand what it’s like to be a Black person in America. But, as I firmly believe, we must control what we can control.
We can’t control the color of our skin, nor can we control the “bad apples” sprinkled throughout the framework of America’s institutions.
But we can control how we act, how we treat one another, and how we can join the fight.
So I asked Allen how we, white people, can help. His response:
“Just ask the question. Yeah, it might feel as though you're putting an unnecessary burden on a Black person to have to teach you something that is wrong. But if you want to learn, all you have to do is ask."
That’s the starting point. We must have uncomfortable conversations, leaning on our Black brothers and sisters to educate us on the two Americas we live in.
We can never put ourselves in their shoes. We can never grasp the fear they walk around with every day.
But we can try.
Whoever your version of Allen Yates is in your life, take him/her out for coffee. Arrange a phone call. Go for a long walk together.
And just talk.
And most importantly, just listen.
Listen, learn, and then carry those lessons forward with you, share them with others, and let them guide what you do and say.
Change doesn't happen overnight. As Allen and I discussed, we’re at least a generation away from seeing the kind of change we wish to see in the world. That requires government buy-in and the removal of centuries-long racism from our institutions.
But I believe progress is made brick-by-brick. You can’t build a house without laying the foundation first.
We, everyday white people, are that foundation. It’s up to each of us individually.
Our Black friends are tired of fighting the good fight. They need our help. Unfortunately, as Allen said, our words and actions carry more weight than theirs.
So speak loudly.
Do the right thing.
And most importantly, be a good person.