I have arrived inexcusably late (I am better than this) — and now commit to being part of the work that needs to be done to move us in the right direction.
There is a poignant quote that is often attributed to a Chinese proverb. It says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
It took a Medium post/Instagram story being shared with me by my wise, kind, and beautiful daughter to open my eyes to the reality of my privilege. My complicity in the plight of so many members of our community.
I’ll be honest, as I believe that it is required of me at this moment. I only watched the video because my daughter shared it with me — and I had mild (at best) interest in what this, sometimes goofy, internet/youtube personality had to say about a topic that was infinitely weighty. I know I’ve ignored other similar messages in the past — but as fate would have it my daughter's nudge gave me the push I needed to listen with care.
The Instagram story is no longer available — but here is the medium post that I’ve gone back to a number of times now: Rhett Mclaughlin — Letter to a white man
The world has not been the same for me since engaging with this content. It must be that the state of the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the back-to-back-to-back-to-back…. gross injustices, and the dysfunctional political climate, and my own nascent desire to pursue more meaningful and purpose-filled work — I was ready to hear the message.
I find myself in this new place. Ready to engage. Ready to accept that I’ve actively ignored the hard realities faced by the Black community. Ready to embrace the message that Black Lives Matter. It is embarrassing to have to admit that I’ve ignored this for the last 40+ years. My embarrassment is not an excuse. It is a loud and vigorous call to action. This is a pivot point. Not a place for self-flagellation or worse, self-pity.
As Jeff Hunter of Talentism says, “I take full responsibility for my blindness. Only my humility will hold me accountable.” and “I start with myself. I accept the reality of systematic racism and bias. I become self-aware: I am the problem. I am self skeptical: I do not see the problem. I accept I am blind due to the luxury of privilege I did not earn.”
I have been reading, and listening, and reading, and reflecting, and reading some more for the last two weeks, and have only just begun to appreciate the breadth and depth of my ignorance. The second best time to plant a tree is NOW. I have arrived inexcusably late (I am better than this) — and now commit to being part of the work that needs to be done to move us in the right direction.
This post was originally written and posted on my blog on 6/9/2020. I am adding to Medium today as an effort to be transparent about these self-reflections.