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/