This has been the longest that this typically bi-weekly blog has gone without a “Dose”. After George Floyd’ death one month ago, while there is much to discuss regarding the Asian American experience and culture, I simply didn’t feel it was the time. For the last month I wrestled with this and while ‘Dose of Asianess’ will be back, I have decided that the right thing to do today, in this time, is to share this platform with others to speak on the African American experience.
This blog has always been about broadening our awareness of, respect for, and interest in what “Asian-ness” entails. Today, we give the mic to voices from the Black community, and I’m very happy to introduce someone I worked with years ago and have a tremendous respect for – Leslie Wingo, President of Sanders / Wingo.
Here is Leslie’s story titled “George Floyd, Anger, frustration and a path forward”.
Over the last week, allies have reached out to offer support and empathy as the world was violently awakened to the murder of George Floyd. People have kindly asked, “How are you doing?” My response has typically been, “I am good. With an asterisk.” The asterisk, in this moment, for me, on a very personal level, indicates how emotionally heavy, confusing and exhausting it is to be black in America.
On the other hand, there is an unsettling relief in knowing many of you now see and understand what my uncles and aunts were fighting for during the civil rights movement.
Today I recognize, while some things have changed, in the past six decades, race relationships have not.
The tear gas, mass arrests and murders of blacks during the 1960s is still happening today. We have a government that is vested in power and enabling the continuation of racial inequality and injustice.
To call something racist is lazy. It is a mental shortcut that allows something to be called out but does not create change. We need to face up to how racial disparities are woven into the very fabric of our society.
For example, how we see one another in a manner that causes a black man to be shot and killed doing ordinary things while a white man who carries an AK-47 onto the grounds of the Michigan capitol and screams in the face of a police officer is able to go home that evening to be with his family.
Other examples are access to basic and higher education, to influence, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the list goes on and on. It is in the fabric of everything we do. It is time to face the truth and dismantle it. This is the time for cultural change. It’s time to break these old systems, learn from our history, and build new ways to live, work, play, embrace our neighbors, and love our families and each other.
Let’s creatively and strategically think about how we change culture. We need diverse ways of thinking and diverse voices to truly create something new.
For us to move forward, we must invest our time into understanding humans at their core, while recognizing how we each show up in the world.
It’s time to invest in humans, not systems.
We need to diagnose and treat the whole human and not just one piece of the whole. Let’s move our frustration into action. Change in policies is only the beginning, but new thinking in how we operate is truly where the magic happens. We have to move beyond checking the boxes to change culture.
My favorite saying is, people hate two things – change and the way things are. What I know to be true is this: The events leading up to this moment have caused a fundamental shift in how we see one another in the world. The anger, frustration and disbelief come from years of turning a blind eye to what’s wrong in our culture, systems and beliefs.
The easy thing to do to feel better in this moment is to donate money to the cause, show support on social media and call out who is right or wrong from our perspective. The real work – the hard work – doesn’t come in this moment. It comes when the sugar rush and adrenaline wear off and life moves forward. The work that needs to be done will not be easy. It will be worth it.
Where do you want to see change? Where does it align with what you believe to be true at your core? From there, I ask you: Do the research, donate your dollars, volunteer in those areas and have the courage to speak your truth. This is where we find leaders and create change. This is how we shift racism, create new ways of thinking and show up authentically.
For me, I want to create a world where diversity, equity and inclusion are normal, not a set-aside or mandate. A world where we can show up, do great work, speak Spanish, English or whatever. Walk down the street, run and be ourselves with the assumption that we are up to doing good. I want this for my kids and (hopefully) grandkids. Don’t you want that too?