With the current state of the world, people finally having to take a moment to sit down and pay attention to the community and environment around them, the hundreds of years of racism, systemic racism, and violence specifically towards black people is being taken notice. The state of America has risen to the surface for all to see. Part of dealing with this on an individual and communal level is through acknowledgment and discussion. And the one sentiment that has been emphasized is that people, especially white people, need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Conversations about race, diversity and inclusion are hard to have, they are awkward, there are a lot of emotions involved and to be effective the art of listening and understanding has to be at the center, not listening to respond but listening to comprehend. And, let’s be honest, most people do not want to have these hard conversations, I myself in the past have shied away from speaking my truth as a black Ghanaian woman and bringing up actions, words and behaviors that hurt or offended me in my circles.
Everyone is so concerned with not being confrontational, keeping the “peace”, that the important conversations from the everyday realities of being black in America to the historical violence of the genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of Africans, of which this country is built on, are not truly focused and spoken about. It is all brushed aside and swept under a rug and the amount under this rug has been turning into a mountain and it will keep getting bigger and bigger.
The ability for black people to speak truthfully and honestly, and be heard at home, with friends, at work and for non-black people to be present, listen and absorb it all cannot be understated, it will only be to the benefit of being able to handle the institutional and systemic racism that we see around us. It will enable for a starting point of true inclusion and diversity to occur, and not the performative actions we see being played out year after year, decade after decade. It is not enough to just say Black Lives Matter, there has to be action, there has to be a change in society, in people, in culture and I believe this setting begins with being comfortable in the uncomfortable conversations that need to be had.