My parents were involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I grew up believing I understood, and was on the right side of things. But Crossroads Anti-Bias Anti-Racism workshop opened my eyes differently, in such a way that I couldn’t close them anymore. It just changed my way of viewing the rest of the world. It almost sounds ridiculous that a two-and-a-half day workshop would have that kind of impact. A lot of us like the ‘right’ things on Facebook or have the ‘right’ kinds of voting records and beliefs. But that is not enough if you believe some things that continue to persist are just unacceptable. And believing they’re unacceptable feels insufficient. If you’re in a place where you can use your circle of influence – whether that’s what you know, what you do, whatever it is – to make active change a priority, then maybe you should.
I imagine my kids will ask me what we have done. Cecilia is 20 and Ivan is 18. Their advice to me as I start this Forward Through Ferguson board work would likely be:“Speak up, say it, don’t play it too safe. Because it matters.” And they’d be on to something. Doing anything—actually doing it—is hard, it takes a lot. Making change, in particular. I’ve been at a bank my entire career. There are invisible lines I’m watching and I must be aware of crossing, and there is a dynamic way to drive change within and through the organization, as there is within a community. This is the right time for different kinds of coalitions around that.”
We’re taking actual, measurable, demonstrable steps, in the name of equity, and racial equity in particular.
I’m very sensitive to who it is that gets to name ‘positive movement’ and what substantial change means. But what has begun more robustly than ever since I’ve been in St. Louis is that people are talking. Listening more. Developing the muscle required to have better, deeper, real, more authentic conversations about racism. There is more data circulating that a broader population is learning about and getting in touch with. There’s work happening in my organization and in others that was not happening two years ago, or even six months ago. We’re taking actual, measurable, demonstrable steps, in the name of equity, and racial equity in particular. So that’s something. Not enough. Being a person who has been afforded such great privilege, I do feel responsible and accountable for doing work like this. It’s time.
Photo by Lindy Drew