It’s time for us to confront our biases.
With Black Lives Matter protests spreading around the world, we need to do what we can as individuals to face racial injustice.
Here is a brain exercise to help nudge at your unconscious bias:
Let’s think of two protest situations: One that was more white-focused and one that was more black-focused. How about any one of the “I am opposed to government-imposed movement restrictions” versus the “I am fed up with the killing of black people” protests?
Now…let’s say that property was damaged in both protests.
“But, but,” you say. “No property was damaged in the ‘open hair salons’ protests.”
Well, yes, no major reports of damage—just as there were none during the “I run with Ahmaud” protests. But let’s take that one stretch—because my point is coming.
Let’s say that had there been property damage during the “open hair salons” protests and people started posting picture after picture of black people damaging shops. Friends at the rallies began saying black people were infiltrating their protest and causing havoc.
How would you respond?
Would you say, “Darn, those nasty black people infiltrating a perfectly legitimate protest. How dare they!”?
Or, instead, would you say, “Look, those nasty white maskless people are looting stores! “How can I possibly support their cause when they are so thoughtless?”
Pause and reflect.
Because people have shown picture after picture of white people damaging stores during the BLM protests. People have shared firsthand accounts of white people doing this. I have direct friends whose validity I trust saying this.
Yes, I’m sure there are those of all races taking advantage. But think on where your brain goes.
Think on the fact that there are factions of our country that do not want you to be more inclusive. It doesn’t need to be organized or conspiratorial. Just like the woman in Central Park who knew she could manipulate the police to blame a black man when she was the true violator, there are countless others who know they can diminish a BLM cause by heading out and smashing a few windows. And they know they can divert the dialogue.
At work, they teach (over and over again), “Stop, Challenge, Choose.” Stop the immediate reaction; challenge your beliefs, emotions, and mental maps; and choose a better response.
It’s not easy. But to me, right now, it’s critical.