Courage in the Aftermath of George Floyd

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By Shawn McClondon

The death and the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd has created an environment that has prompted and unearthed lingering wounds and questions. But questions like how we achieve racial justice for all or how we end racism sometimes seems too big to really wrap your head around. And that’s why, thinking about trying to answer these questions, I instinctively fall back on what I believe it takes to solve any big problem or achieve any seemingly unattainable goal. I believe that you never focus directly on the huge problem or goal, but you make it more digestible by identifying the steps to get there and chip away at them until you arrive at your destination.

So as an individual who has had a life-long education in race relations, primarily between white and black cultures. Being a Black man that has shuffled from all white environments and communities to all black environments and communities and so on and so forth, engagements pertaining to race have been an all too common occurrence for me.

So the steps to start addressing major themes like racism and racial justice, in my opinion can be boiled down to one major theme, COURAGE! I believe that courage is very much absent in our society today. And that lack of courage inhibits us from addressing any of these tough issues with the force that is necessary to make a difference.

So let’s look at some steps that could be used to address racial injustice or racism at the basic level and how courage affects each step.

Black and white people do not know each other very well. There are so many misunderstandings between cultures. But we can address that by engaging each other in uncomfortable conversations. That takes courage. We need more individuals whether white or black to walk up to a person from another culture to start a conversation and maybe ask some uncomfortable questions. And the other person must be willing to engage without judgement or anger, which also takes courage.

The second thing is people need to stop creating bubbles for themselves. Right now, people do this in so many different ways. They do it by surrounding themselves with people that only have the same opinions and life experiences that they do. They do it by only listening or taking in information that validates their own opinions or perspectives. And lastly, people tend to move to areas that make them comfortable, i.e. people that look like them. Everyone needs to find the courage to seek diversity and seek enrichment in their life by embracing and understanding differences.

The last thing that probably takes the most amount of courage is a concept that is making the rounds, which is if you see something, say something. If any person that is close to you says something blatantly or even slightly racist, people have to start saying something and deciding that it can no longer be acceptable not to. But the key to this and where most people fail, is to do this without anger or judgment. It is almost impossible to have a rational and productive conversation with someone who feels attacked or feels anger is being directed toward them.

So how courageous are you? I challenge anyone reading this to practice these steps regularly and see how it changes you, your life and the people around you.

WATCH for Shawn's podcast on TrailBlazers Impact Podcast Show coming 12/25/20!