Change Isn’t Silent: Here’s What Real Allyship Looks Like-Social Media Postings Ain’t It
In one of largest movements for racial justice amidst a global pandemic, I have noticed that many social media feeds are returning back to “normal.” A return to selfies, skin care tutorials, food photos, and everything in between. No judgement, just an observation of the direction we are headed in — backwards, into silence. Companies, brands, schools, organizations and individuals who posted black squares in June are now silent, on the things that matter most. Yet, when we think about the seminal moments of hate and trauma that rocked us to our core are the loudest. Waking up to news of Walter Wallace, a mentally ill Black man being killed by police as his mother begged for them not to shoot — the summer of 2020 and the seeing the video of George Floyd, or that Breonna Taylor was sleep in her home as she was shot multiple times with no aid rendered — these are loud moments. This got me to thinking: if those moments are so loud, and created such a booming and unavoidable impact on our consciousness, why isn’t our change just as loud? The silent “activism” of our time can be seen through the lenses of organizations, corporations, and schools that have released statements and promises to do better, however, we have yet to see these words put into action. Attempts like these seem to hold a space from the perspective of “yes, I want change to happen, but I’m afraid of offending, angering, and provoking the other side ” The line between systemic change and temporary trend-following becomes blurred. To combat the flimsiness of trend following in order to create lasting change, the change has to be loud. It has to be bold, courageous, and willing to risk something. If we are going to make a change, it can’t be one that is meant to soothe or make others feel comfortable. When you’re a person who is advocating for change, comfort cannot be your goal. Critical and often uncomfortable questions to challenge people are imperative to this process. The status quo can only be knocked out of its seat if we are to do more than gently nudge for the change we seek. That being said, we are naturally socialized to play it safe in the comfort zone, defaulting to what we know or what we have always done. There is a duality to this knowing: we know that there are systems at play that create unfair and inequitable advantages and disadvantages, but some of us have come to accept this as “normal.” When we accept this as our normal, it becomes even more challenging to change these systems of oppression. Yet, I see a lot of us referring back to the default, because, again, it’s what we know.
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As someone who is an advocate for change, specifically in the diversity, equity, inclusion and justice space, my identity and lived experience as a Black woman has me at the forefront of pushing these conversations, putting myself and body on the line in spaces where perhaps, these conversations are considered taboo or simply not welcomed. But again, my job is not to soothe and create comfort. I cannot be the caretaker of shame or blame — it’s too exhausting! With that, I hope you’re also exhausted from the pain and suffering you’ve witnessed over the last few months and have begun to think about what you can do to ignite change in your own sphere of influence. Have you asked yourself, how can I create change within myself, my family, and my community?
Here are five things to consider to make sure your Change Isn’t Silent.
- Make your goals clear: Whatever it is you want to change, make it clear. Set out a time, write down your goal, and refine. Start inward, stay present, and keep clear on what your objective is.
- Get proximate: I often hear of folks reading books and articles, which is great! But this begs the question: Who are you discussing them with afterward? Are you creating actionable change from your knowledge, or simply intellectualizing what you’re reading, thus ending the conversation? Choose to discuss them with those who may have a different lived experience than you that challenges your perception and thinking. Bring your thought process outwards: get proximate and find ways to have connectivity with people who are directly impacted by these issues. Move beyond intellectualizing what you’re reading. Reading won’t cure us of racism, so find ways to go deeper beyond your bookshelf.
- Stay in a constant state of wonder: keep questioning, even if you think you put it all together. Reflect on the past, the present, and help those reflections propel you for the future.
4. Take action; there is a difference between wanting change and working towards change. To propel yourself towards action it’s important to remember: Perfection isn’t a prerequisite for change! It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to start. Within your own sphere of influence, begin to examine what does that start look like? How can you continue to stretch and grow both your thinking and perspective?
5. Take accountability: How are you holding yourself accountable to your goals? Do you have an accountability partner? If change is going to be made, you need to find someone to check in with — maybe they need you to hold them accountable, too!
We need to get loud and active with our change. Getting loud about change has to extend beyond our social media posts. This moment is an opportunity for us to re-examine, revise, and re-imagine what our future can be if we are all FREE. I don’t know if I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I’m working to get there anyhow.
Ralinda Watts, a native of Los Angeles, is a diversity expert, consultant, educator and writer who works at the intersection of culture, identity, race, and justice, sparking thoughtful conversations on what matters most; authenticity! Her podcast, #RalindaSpeaks, is available on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Connect with me on Instagram & Twitter @RalindaSpeaks