I don’t even know where to start with my letter this week. I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to find my story—some plot or thought to play out for you in this letter. I felt like I was waiting for the inspiration to strike, presenting on webinars, scrolling Instagram, and having everyday conversations. Usually, something sparks the idea.
The truth is that I don’t have a lot of creativity while the reality is so disgustingly harsh. Last week, I silenced this letter for only the second time since I started this company in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Our news feeds are noisy. It was important for me to make space for new voices and listen more. You know the old saying. We have two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk—three ears in my case.
As I listened to people revealing the stories they’d held sacred and still scared to speak their truths after all these years, the reality of black life in America enraged me more and more. I knew racism was real, but the scope and scale of daily injustices that shape futures and shift everyday lives? I was naive to believe it wasn’t happening.
In my reflection, I also am angry at myself. I know that I failed as a person whenever I stayed silent in rooms where a leader made a racist joke. I let people down every time I brushed off lousy behavior with, “he’s a good guy.” I set a tone of acceptance for hate when I didn’t tell a relative their language was not acceptable in my home. I should have knocked that “influencer” out who shouted in a crowded bar at a big event, “I’m a white man in Trump’s America. I do what I want.” Yes, true story.
In my moments of silence over the last week I’ve learned a lot, but mostly this: I will never be quiet again. Discomfort be damned. If I can damage my relationship with you by standing up against injustice and racism, we don’t need to have a relationship. I’d rather offend my white friends than bury my black friends.
Nothing less than radical change happens next.
I wrote about another radical change in my blog this week, the passing of gay marriage, a story about my celebration that year, and what it meant to have my manager say, “this is history.” To feel understood.
So as I seek to understand, I hope you will too. Two (three) ears, one mouth.