So last weekend I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friend Corine of everdaycori.com. Y’all, this conversation was everything! I texted her randomly one morning right out of the shower, because that’s when I have my best thoughts. I thought it would be a great idea to sit down and both talk about our experiences in the current social climate that we’re in, all while living in a super suburban town like Santa Clarita. We didn’t hold anything back. We were both honest, attentive, and authentic.
I am a person who admittedly hasn’t dealt with white people much outside of work. I grew up in all Black neighborhoods, attended an HBCU, then went back to all Black neighborhoods. When I moved to Santa Clarita in 2017, I was in complete culture shock. I knew it was only 3% Black before I moved, but I had no idea what that actually meant. I also thought that since California, and especially Los Angeles, was a pretty liberal place, I would be around all the cool, hippie type of white people. That turned out to be furthest from the truth.
Anyway, Corine and I talked about everything from how we met, to our personal backgrounds, to our positions on what we see happening, and how it’s impacted our stay in this city. We have these types of talks all the time, but it was fun to just turn the camera on and capture it. We didn’t plan it, we didn’t rehearse questions beforehand, and we didn’t know what each other would say. We just pressed on, and let the conversation flow. The two of us can go for literally hours, so next time, we might want to have some sort of script. LOL
Please see the conversation below. I hope you love it as much as we loved having it. To me, this is the first step in bridging the gap, in connecting authentically, and in true progress. Pretending that it doesn’t exist, and just staying comfortable, doesn’t help anyone. It’s selfish and it’s self-serving. It’s time for us all to commit to speaking up, not just for our own communities, but for any injustice being done to any group of people.
Here is what I think we all need to do to forge these genuine connections with people we otherwise wouldn’t:
1. LISTEN! I’d say white people need to do more of the listening at this time. But Black people also need to listen, while seeking to understand.
2. DON’T BE QUICK TO DEFEND! Please understand that some minorities experiences have been brutal. They may not have anything kind to say about anyone who looks like you. That’s ok. On the flip side, there are white people who have been attacked by minorities as well. Some of them maybe just up to no good, while others were lashing out for things that have happened to them. Do not defend these actions.
3. UNDERSTAND THAT THE PERSON SITTING IN FRONT OF YOU DIDN’T PERSONALLY DO IT. Not all white people are bad. Not all cops are bad. Not all Black people are great. Whatever your position, it’s highly unlikely that the person you are trying to communicate to you was the personal offender. Don’t treat them as such.
4. THE PAST IS IMPORTANT. DO NOT TRY TO DISCREDIT IT. That’s exactly what got us here. Brushing inequalities off as a thing of the past is hurtful and harmful. That conversation will go left, quickly!
5. IF YOU DON’T KNOW SOMETHING, JUST SAY THAT. Please don’t make up completely wrong narratives to fit your train of thought. If you’re unsure, just say that. You don’t always need to be right.
6. BE UNAPLOGETICALLY YOURSELF. Do not try to talk Black while you’re around Black people. Black people, do not try to talk white or change your mannerisms to impress white people. BE YOU!
7. EMBRACE DISCOMFORT. That’s the only way we can work through it. This road won’t be peachy. It’s time for us to band together, and show how strong we can be. That only starts with speaking truth. Frankly, the truth of our country, and our judicial system, is very ugly, and it can be uncomfortable so then the conversations may be also. The healing may be also. The growth may be also. And that’s ok.