This month, I am tasked with writing about “character” and I find that I am struggling. I usually write about one event that will sum up a theme or one moment with a stranger or my family that I feel is universally reflective. But, for me, this moment calls for deep rumination about what my character really is.
This journey is personal. It’s the insights, the cracks in the facade, the bits and pieces of awareness coming to light – that I am being drawn to.
In short, I have been “brought to my knees” as I face my own thoughts about racism, tolerance, love.
The way I have considered the world and my place in it has changed. I see that although I have thought of myself as a “good” person, a “kind” person, an “aware” person – there have been times that I have either not seen or turned a blind eye to the pain of others.
The Past: Where Was I?
My heart hurts from the stories and articles I have been reading, the videos I have seen, the interviews I have watched – all events that have been right out there all this time… and where was I?
Where was I that I was not as outraged as circumstances called for?
Where was I that I did not help to find a way to move all this toward healing?
Where was I that I lived behind excuses of upbringing or age to not see?
I was told by a person I just met that she has no time for my guilt.
I stop and think how right she is.
The Take Away
If I do feel guilt, I will use that as a launching pad. I will not become helpless. I will not become hopeless. I know I only have the power that I give myself. I claim that my character is a work in progress. I can take this new found glimpse of awareness and instead of whining about the past or justifying old patterns of behavior – I chose to grow.
I can stop looking for excuses to keep me where I am and instead I can bring the deep uncomfortableness (and, dare I say, “shame”) closer and acknowledge it. I can LISTEN and SEE. Not making this about me… I can learn.
My daughter asks “what’s the take-away?”
I stop again. The take away? Huh. Deep breaths.
I (we) can take large steps and small steps – knowing that all steps are forward motion.
I (we) can use money, time, heart to commit to expansion.
I (we) can continue to read and get more informed.
I (we) can take action and change this paradigm.
Instead of asking “where was I?” I am now asking “where AM I?
It’s a start.
Some Places to Start
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. BLM Website
How to be Anti-Racist
“In How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.”
Good Black News
Good Black News “believe in bringing you positive news and stories of interest about black people all over the world, and truly hope you will help spread the word so we can build and grow our vision together.”
By ALISON MARTIN
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Em, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, living life like your socks feel real good.
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Thank you Alison for your candid essay about how racism affects you. As a Black woman, I’m often asked by White acquaintances, “What can I do?” While there are books and seminars I can suggest, I believe the best answer is to have Black friends … real friends. In conversations with them about movies, shopping, hair, or anything else on the planet, you’ll hear the experience of people who are disenfranchised (and die) due to racism. I am grateful for you asking the questions here. We’re in it together.