No. 8: The Listener

Actively working toward self-awareness doesn't make me a better person. Being aware of my thoughts and feelings – my reactions to internal and external events – doesn't make me more compassionate, more helpful, or more impactful. But it creates the possibility that I could be, if I want.

Yesterday morning, I was not self-aware. I was hugely worried, not just about the protests across the country, but about how to react to Blackout Tuesday, which was meant to amplify black voices across digital platforms. I transformed into The Thinker, Rodin's sculpture who "thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes." I used my whole body to try to "solve" the problem that even though I support the concept of antiracism, I have not been antiracist. What have I ever done to actively combat racism? Have I protested, supported non-profits working against racism, or actively sought to work with clients and collaborators who are people of color? No, no, and only a little bit. Could I amplify black voices without doing a bunch of research on what voices to amplify? No. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable. I gave myself a severe migraine.

After I slept for a few hours, I reflected on the fact that I was trying to find a semblance of a solution that very day to something that I have been doing – or haven't been doing, rather – my whole life. And that's crazy. If I want to work against racism, instead of just thinking of myself as "not racist," I'm going to have to work on it every single day, over time.

So, from bed, I unclenched the muscles in my body and started with something that felt embarrassingly thin, but a start, at least. I went through all the Instagram captions from people I admire, researching the black women and non-binary people they were tagging, quoting, and celebrating. I followed nearly all of them, and now this morning, I'm reading and listening. And I'm buying books for my son with black protagonists, and I've bought books for myself. And I have drafted a plan for myself to make racial diversity a priority in my work in a bigger way – and not just soon, but steadily and consistently.

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