To My Community

To all the Black members of my community, we stand with you, always. My team and I love you, and you matter to us.

The United States is reeling with the murder of George Floyd and the consequent boiling point that has been reached in America – and beyond – over race issues, the oppression, the violence towards Black people, which of course is nothing new, has been going on for a very, very long time. But it seems to have reached, I suppose not even a new level of awareness, because I could only imagine the frustration of the Black community in knowing that these images are put forward time and again and nothing gets done, but does seem to have reached a different crescendo in terms of the chord that it struck with people at scale.

I have thought long and hard this week about what to do with this week’s video, about what I wanted to say, about what I could possibly say that wouldn’t sound trite and cliche. And I spoke to Black friends of mine this week, I spoke to a friend of mine Darien for two hours this week, where he told me, “We don’t just want to hear a repetition of the narrative that we know so well.” He said, “This violence has been happening to us our whole lives, it’s just that white people are now being affected emotionally by the violence that has been happening physically to Black people.”

I also am so aware of the risk that people like myself run of simply jumping on the bandwagon of something because it’s popular to do so. And the last thing I want to do is trade on the attention that this moment has created and do something just because it’s expected, or just because it feels like the thing to do. Everything I do, everything I’ve done over the last 12 years, I have strived to do with intention and with authenticity, and I see this as no different.

And in the interests of being authentic, I don’t exactly know what to say about this issue. I’m out of my depth in talking about these issues. I certainly don’t understand them. I’m working to. I have always felt that one of my greatest strengths in life, one of my natural gifts, is empathy. And yet, how could anyone understand, having not lived that life of both overt racism and subtle undercurrents of racism that are faced daily by people in the Black community? That is something that we can only begin to connect to through hearing these stories, through seeing these videos, and through talking to people and listening – the great skill that is needed right now of truly listening.

What would pain me is to think that Black people in our community, people who watch me every week, think that I am not there for them. Think that I’m not showing up for you, think that I’m not sitting with you in some way. And so I thought let’s just take this week’s video, not for me to give advice, not for me to pretend I can be an expert in any way on this or come along with some really intelligent insight, but simply to say, I love you and I am here for you.

And I know that you are on an emotional roller coaster through this time that I cannot possibly comprehend. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be there with you in some way. Just as in a relationship, we don’t always understand the thing that our partner brings us: they could bring us a family issue, they could bring us an issue from work, they could bring us a health issue, none of which we can fully understand or solve, but we can still sit in the room with them. We don’t need to leave the room and be silent.

One of the things that I get messages on all the time when it comes to people’s love lives is the idea of gaslighting. That the person they’re with makes them feel crazy for the thing that they’re upset about, for the thing that they see very clearly is wrong in that person’s behavior, but their partner is making them feel crazy for saying it’s wrong. That they’re being over-reactive, that they’re being difficult, that they’re seeing things that are not there. It is a nasty, nasty thing that is done in relationships that makes people feel like they’re crazy.

I watched David Goggins this week make a video about the experiences that he had growing up, the racist experiences that he had, and how, when he wrote them in his book as an adult, there were people from his past that made him feel crazy, that made him feel like they never happened, that he was exaggerating, and how crazy making that was for him.

As disgusting and as horrible as these videos we’re seeing are, I can’t help but be grateful for the fact that we are seeing them, that we’re being made to feel this uncomfortable. Because these things are inarguable, they are indisputable, they are wrong, they are a disgrace. And it’s time for me and for people like me to check their egos and to listen. To not be defensive when we’re being told these things, when it’s being revealed to us the ways that we have ignored things, the ways that we have stayed silent on things. But to check our egos and be brave enough to relinquish our story of how wonderful we think we’ve been, and to understand what we can do to do better. To take on new ideas about how we can proactively make things better, and how we can learn more about what the experience still is for so many, how so many people in this world are having such disgraceful and uncivilized experience of our apparently civilized modern world.

For those of you listening right now, watching this, who are Black members of my community, I love you. I’m with you. I am in your corner. And I don’t know how to contribute on the level that I want. I don’t know how to solve this, clearly very few people do. I don’t know what the answers are, but I know I love you, and I know that I am so, so grateful that you are here.

And I hope that you’ll leave a comment, either letting me and other people like me know where we should put our attention right now, what books we should be reading, what voices we should be listening to, and perhaps most importantly of all, what your story is. I know that it’s an intensely vulnerable thing to leave a comment that talks about yourself and your story, especially when it relates to race issues, but I know that we would be grateful to read it. I know I will be, I will be reading them, every single one of them, and listening to everything you have to say.

So I’m here to learn, I’m here to listen, and I’m grateful for anything that you can share with me to help me do that. I’ll see you next week.

 

P.S. For anyone interested I have included a list below of organizations I have chosen to support with donations this week. **In addition, when we first posted this video this morning, I had it demonetized out of respect so as not to profit from this video. However many of you pointed out in the comments that it would be better to have ads turned on and have the revenue go to the cause. I love the idea, so I have, and 100% of the proceeds from this video will also be donated to the causes below:

1- My Brother’s Keeper Alliance https://www.obama.org/mbka/
2- Center for Policing Equity https://policingequity.org
3- Equal Justice Initiative https://eji.org
4- NAACP https://www.naacp.org
5- The Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund https://www.obama.org/girlsopportunityalliance/

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63 Replies to “To My Community”

  1. If only everyone was just like this.. The world would definitely be better. I’m black and I’ve been absolutely touched by your video. Thank you so so much. Mad crazy love from THE BLACK COMMUNITY. #BLM

  2. Thank you for the humble, honest response to this awful matter!
    Just as yourself, I have no revelations or solutions or secrets to share.
    Most of all I deeply empathize with the feeling that it is unbielievable that in 2020 we are faced with differences that should be nonexistent! But I guess this is often the case of those who are not permanently hurt by a satus quo.
    I hope that us humans as a whole, get to keep learning and growing and our hearts stay open to be able to stand beside one another as equals, as it should be!! Becasuse we are equals and that must be internalized and understood and respected by everyone!

  3. Racism is taught…luckily one of my best childhood friends was black growing up so the colour of people’s skin was irrelevant to me. As I got older I had a good friend that had black children. We were I invited to go to my Mothers house swimming with the kids. I was shocked when my Mother said “you could have warned me that her kids were black”. My Mother was a sweet, God loving woman. I think when she saw my shock at her statement, she back peddled a little to say it was okay but that she just would have appreciated the heads up.

    I won’t ever forget this blatten display of racism from the woman I love and respect most in this world.

  4. Thank you. As part of the Black community, it’s so lovely just to hear people say “We’re here for you and we’re listening and we’re willing to learn” and genuinely meaning it, after being ignored for so long. Your words made me cry, just as I’ve cried when my friends have said similar things this week. If more people have this attitude, the World will become a better place. You asked what you can do. Just keep sharing that willingness to listen and learn with other people, as you always do.
    Thank you again

  5. As a Black woman who has been in your community for years, I really appreciate your support. People like you speaking out about this, condemning racism, and sharing organizations you’ve donated to is a huge step towards helping people realize that this isn’t just an issue for Black people to talk about and concern themselves with. Nothing changes that way. Putting a message out like this makes a huge difference, and hearing it from someone they respect and trust makes an impact, especially on people who otherwise would rather not put much thought into a thorny issue like this or don’t feel personally affected. Thank you.

  6. Matthew. I have always been a fan of yours. You are so articulate and insightful and cari ng concerning relationships. But this video blew me away. You just have this incredibly special way to impart your thoughts and feelings. This is such an intelligent message. Thank you

  7. Thank you Matthew for acknowledging my anger and fear that many people of color experience unfolding in their everyday lives. The year 2020 has started with a Worldwide Pandemic and Protests for the inhuman acts that if we’re not seen by all of the world would still continue to be hidden within the constant cries of victims families. This is now a Movement for change “Black Lives Matters “, wants everyone to understand we want equality.

  8. Thank you for this. Your sincerity of heart brought me to tears. I have two black sons who are amazing young men I often wonder what life would be like not to have to live in fear for their lives. I have to remind them that they can’t behave a certain way that would draw any further negative attention and it’s just hard to just breath and be black in this world…we are human and unfortunately the US did not even consider black slaves as fully human we were considered 3/5 a person. When we look at our ancestors most of the images we have to look back at are of pain and suffering of lynching. People want to say that was a long time ago… I’m 47, my grandmother who passed in 2010 was 82 when she passed, she lived as a sharecropper along with her mother who was a slave. My father 72 years old grew up on that plantation with his siblings in South Georgia. The things they witnessed and the fear they lived in is unbearable to comprehend. Thank you Matthew for the charities you are supporting. It would be helpful if more White people would speak up and end the silence when you see something that is not right happening. We are all a part of the human race… we are one. Love and blessings to you.

  9. Thanks Matthew for your compassion!
    Yes you can make a difference by walking the walk, and make a
    donation to a black Charity, anything to help Black causes right now! God will bless you a thousand folds!

  10. Hello Matthew, Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your thoughts, perspectives, insights and taking a stand in support. I appreciate that you own your lack of experience and knowledge and uncertainty in this area. I think there are many who feel this way. I encourage us, as white folks, to do our own work in this area. We need to educate ourselves about these issues, work to learn, know and seek to understand the systemic racism and structures so we can dismantle them. The organizations that you chose to donate to have resources available to do this. I would also suggest another resource The United State of Women organization who is also doing this work. I know I have made mistakes when having conversations on diversity and equity. I will continue to make mistakes and I am not an expert in any way, shape or form, but I know that social justice is a continuum. It takes all of us to work collectively to achieve a more equitable society.

  11. Hi, Matthew.

    In your piece, you said: “I also am so aware of the risk that people like myself run of simply jumping on the bandwagon of something because it’s popular to do so. And the last thing I want to do is trade on the attention that this moment has created and do something just because it’s expected, or just because it feels like the thing to do.”

    I am a white woman with a biracial son, Abraham, who joined our family through adoption when he was 22 months old. He is now 18, and just graduated from high school yesterday. Abe was raised in communities – San Luis Obispo, CA. and Santa Barbara, CA. – where there is little overt racism. At least that’s the view of this progressive white gal.

    I currently live in the heart of San Luis Obispo where protesters have taken to the streets for a week. I’d like to think that most white people from my predominantly white community are earnest and well-meaning. I want to believe they join in not for show, but because they want to be part of the change.

    I have not participated in the Black Lives Matter protests. I have not participated because, like you, I do not want to jump on the bandwagon of outrage when, as a white woman, I posses very limited understanding of racial anguish. I don’t choose to “steal the show” from black individuals who need their voices heard. I don’t want to be a part of protests that focus on less-than-authentic white voices – because how can white voices of white privilege truly empathize with racism which we have observed yet have never personally experienced? It’s a dicey situation.

    The other night, I asked Abraham what he thinks about white people marching with black protesters. Here’s what he said:

    “Mom, if white people didn’t protest alongside black people, nobody would listen to black people.”

    The unfortunate truth from the mouth of my babe . . .

    I appreciate your honesty in all things, Matthew.

    Be well,

    Rebecca

  12. I am not black, I am a female hispanic. My father was in jail since I was two years old, and was just deported to our country in 2018 after serving a 35 year sentence for selling drugs; murderers serve less time…especially cops that kill…I will not be surprised that George Floyd murders get released after a couple of years. Basically I grew up in jail; me and my Mom would visit as much as we could afford (he was in NY and we lived in Miami), and we even slept there some weekends thanks to a family program that allowed families to stay the weekend in a trailer inside the facility. This was a maximum security jail, it was no joke. As my awareness changed from child to adult, it struck me how many African Americans and hispanics were convicted versus white, and how unfair and biased our justice system was. Just look into the Rockefeller drug laws, they are ridiculous. Then I wondered how jail was helping these gentlemen, and i realized it wasn’t. The jail system is just another commercial business in United States and there was no intention to reform people that took a wrong turn, they could care less. I still don’t understand why so many minorities are incarcerated and just left to rot in our “justice system”, or how to even help out. But what I do know is that I grew up fearing the justice system, fearing the police officers at the maximum security facility, suffering ever day for my father and all the while hiding all of this from everyone i knew in my life so I would not be discriminated , judged and isolated. I also witness firsthand what it was like to be treated like you were less than the scum on earth, because that is how I was treated at the facility…never a hello, never a smile, it was cold and empathy was not a word they knew. Yes, there were some good officers, but most were not. Because of this experience i understand first hand what it feels to be viewed as a “minority” and almost feel like I was less because of it. But I did not know what to do about it besides keep quiet and going, because anytime you thought something was unfair..they could make it worse if you spoke up. And lawyers are expensive…we did not have the means to hire a voice for us to fight against the injustice. During all of this time I married a white American, who with the pass of the years let me know through racial undertones my place as a minority (hispanic and woman) and who never empathized with my father’s unjust incarceration. I should have left him, but instead he left me just two month ago (during peak of covid) for an 18 year old (he is 38) because my family disgusted him. I am an engineer and work for a big company -my husband worked there too-, I will never forget the day I got invited to a VP retirement party and he did not, he told me “that’s probably because they were only inviting minorities and women…I would not be invited to stuff like that”. I was so excited about sharing this moment with him and just like that he bursted my bubble and reminded me of my dad’s jail..and how little I always felt there. Those comments happen all the time in our society and until people don’t understand empathy, they will not stop. I have no answers…but I do have a deep understanding of what it feels to be made feel little -a minority- and it sucks and it has to stop.

  13. Everything you said is how I feel Matthew. You have put my feelings into words so well. The idea that I have been a part of this horror, not meaning to be but not doing anything like enough the change things, fills me with shame. In my job I am in a position to do something but I have been blindly going about my days, congratulating myself on being a good person because I treat all the children I teach the same. That is not enough. I see that now. Black and ethnic minority children need more…not the same. They need more to combat the automatic privilege of their white classmates. I will do better and I start today. It’s not up to any Black person to try educate me because I deserve to feel this guilt but I promise, I swear to Black mothers and mothers of Black children I will lift your children up as high as I can. I hope that’s something and I hope that’s enough.

  14. Thank you so much Matt for always keeping it real, and it shows in all your videos. I’ve been a big fan for many years and now I’m part of several of your programs. As a black woman, it means a lot to me/us for being there and showing your support. Thank you for all you do and specially for how much you’ve helped me personally in so many ways to create a life that I’m starting to love more everyday despite all the hardship that life throws my way.

    I wish I had the answers to how else you can help but awareness and speaking up about such issue are definitely great ways to help . We love you Matt and thank you for your kind and humbling heart. ❤️

  15. Hi Matthew,

    Thank you for showing your support and speaking on this. As a black woman it means a lot to hear your thoughts and I found your video touching and from the heart. It’s hard to describe what it really is like walking around everyday of your life with this internal pressure to prove my worth. It’s emotionally and physically draining to say the least. This moment in time is hopefully going to bring lasting changes to the entire world on equality. Thank you.

  16. I am in no way an expert but how I see it, the problem this world has is focusing on what differentiates one from the other, rather than acknowledging what people have in common. The problem is assigning colour/gender/sex/ethnicity/food preference etc to… life, to being in one way or the other. Essentially, there is no real difference between people as we all have one life, one heart, etc and we all share this wonderful experience of being alive on this beautiful planet. I feel that, whoever assumes hate instead of love based on prejudices like skin colour/sexual orientation so on, they actually assume hate towards anything other than their selves (but actually rooted in a deep hate towards parts of their own selves?). Irrespective of what it might be, that, to me, is mental illness and such inclinations should be screened for and addressed accordingly through education and psychological support.

  17. Who are all created in God’s image and before god we are one as a family there’s no need for discrimination or racism because by doing this it becomes heartbreaking for us we all have to become 1 as a family it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white we are still a family that’s what matters.

  18. Thank you for your words Matthew! I am a mixed race British woman and have never suffered anything like the extreme racism of George Floyd however I have (as I’m sure every non white person living in the western world) been the victim of racist comments and remarks. It doesn’t matter how small the comment remark, it is still extremely hurtful and unjust. My view is 0 tolerance to racist behaviour! Enough is enough!

  19. I started at a business here . When my business moved to a bigger city. I went to the new building and had some problems. I moved to a different job in the warehouse to see if things would get better. It was not always great. But, I hung in there and it got better. Now, I am better because of some people I have came across in my life. I would love to thank these people I met along the way. I am a white women and you would think they are too. No, I have met some really great black people. They have guided me though my life. Two ladies who gave me a hard time and good times. But, I see now they were making me tougher. Two older black men who guided me by saying things to me that I needed to hear. I also have a guy who is black that has been there when I just needed a friend. But, that is not all – I also have Mexican and foreign friends too. ( people from other countries). Don’t get me wrong. I have several people who I appreciate that are black, white, and Mexican. But, I know we all have something in common- me. I have been going though a rough time and I a found a peace in myself. I walk. Yes, I take walks. I enjoyed nature and music. I went today and meet a new friend. He is great older man who has done so much for our country. But, just listening to him- made everything great. It was also nice to have someone to walk with. So, all I can say is if you are black, white or Mexican. Take a walk. You will found yourself and maybe you will come across people who likes you for you. Also, people around you are all there for a reason. So, listen and be open to new things. I am still trying to do that today. You just need to listen. A lot of us including me forgot that. I think people need to remember – we were not there before and after this event happened. So, don’t assume anything and don’t blame a group. I hope we can all understand that bad things happen but, what we do with it matters. So, now I come to a time in my life where I am unsure what to do. But, I hope I get a push that I need. Someone who can help me make two big decisions in my life. I will see what happens. But, until then I
    will walk. I hope this helps.

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