It’s the summer of 2020. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, but more than that, there’s a massive movement outside my door. As a native of Chicago, and a mother of a young daughter, the recent racial protests have consumed me. Not just because I watch the news, listen to podcasts, and read every article I can get my hands on . . . but because it’s happening steps in front of my very own home.
From the moment you bring a life into the world (whether through birth, adoption, surrogate, your partner, etc.), there is a force that drives your body to ache for and with your child’s every experience. With my own daughter, I have found this to be true as I learn and read about the changing world she and I find ourselves in. Especially this year. You read news with a lens of connection and reality that each individual is somebody’s everything. You can’t help but think of your role in bettering things for your family and those who will follow you. Usually, my mind naturally wanders to that place when I turn on the news, but on May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a grown man unable to breathe while a police officer knelt on his neck, cried for his mom. My heart absolutely shattered. In a time of anguish and near death . . . his final breath was a howl for his mom.
That cry must charge all of us – to learn and unlearn. To help create a society for all adults, all children to unquestionably understand that Black Lives Matter.
Now, change happens to be both my career and my passion. While I am not an expert in racism or activism, and I don’t pretend to be, I do know how to help people change mindsets and behaviors. So I’m leaning into this knowledge and leveraging strategies that have been proven successful time and time again to make sure I’m creating a home where change isn’t just something preached, but part of who we, my family, innately are from this moment on.
I want to start by openly stating that I write this from a place of vulnerability and a desire to learn. The thoughts and POV you will read here may be littered with mistakes, opportunity for correction, opinions to be challenged, and statements that may be disagreeable. I WELCOME THE FEEDBACK. Please tell me where I can grow, help me understand what I don’t yet know, and let’s build a dialogue for change together.
Creating Change at Home
I have an audience of two at home – my husband and nearly two-year-old daughter. Words cannot express how passionately I feel about my duty as a mother to harvest a better future for my daughter and her generation . . . and it begins with us, the role models who raise these young ones.
I’ve immersed myself in Black Lives Matter articles, blogs, and social media posts that have moved me beyond measure, and some with ideas and insights that we can all use to achieve equality. While awareness and acknowledgment is a key first step, we now need to act in order to implement behavior change. So I’m turning to what I know to be true – the actions organizations use to achieve and sustain transformational change. I believe these methodologies can reap equal benefits in home life too.
Here is my starting point for my personal journey of becoming antiracist and leading my family through the same. I welcome you to adopt the below or to introduce me to new ideas as you embark on your own home transformations.
Creating Emotional and Intellectual Connections
- Use storytelling to create impactful understanding and lessons learned.
- Example: [Once upon a time] there was an introverted young man named Elijah McClain. He walked to get an iced tea from a store for his brother. It was just an average day, until he was wrongly accused of causing trouble and a police force showed up to pin him to the ground, causing tremendous stress and physical abuse. He was sedated, begged for forgiveness in a cry for help, and then never woke up. And still, his family was not given straightforward information about the wrongdoing, and a year later a community continues to demand justice for this tragedy. [Finally] It is sickeningly unfair for someone to be treated so horrifically because of the color of their skin.
- Children learn to read with picture books. For years Root has leveraged the element of visualization to create immediate understanding and clarity for businesses that look to successfully roll out change for their organizations. With something as important and complex as the BLM movement, this is an opportunity to leverage the power of visuals.
- Example: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBlQUjqnBAC/
- The business-to-home correlation for this isn’t direct, but I think about everyday changes to introduce. How can we “interact” in a way that allows widespread acceptance? In business we would introduce simulations, workshop sessions, card games, etc. Similarly, I seek to interact with diverse people and stories regularly.
- Example: I have begun to fill my daughter’s bookshelves with stories of empowering characters of all skin colors, shapes, and demographics. Our doll collection is diverse. We are exploring meals from different cultures and learning about the origins of those countries and their suppression stories before we dine on their cuisine in gratitude.
- Talk about it. Have the difficult conversations. Offer perspectives and opinions. Learn from and apply it to one another. Our Chairman, Jim Haudan, has a favorite quote: “Dialogue is the oxygen of change.” I have never felt those words to be more powerful than they are in 2020.
- Example: Code Switchis a podcast from NPR around having fearless conversations about race. While this is not a sponsorship or an endorsement, I personally enjoyed it and recommend giving it a listen to aid in your own circles of discussion.
So do I see Root’s methodology – visualization, interactivity, and group dialogue – as an opportunity to enact change in my own household and personal network? You better believe I do.
The Journey to Learn and Unlearn
More than ever, we have to take an active role in ensuring we change the way we think, the way we speak, the way we interact, and the way we lead. When looking in the eyes of your child . . . that’s never been so imperative. As I work to intentionally live and parent as an antiracist, I know plenty of mistakes will be made. Forgive me. Correct me. Keep me honest. I know it will take a deep commitment and conscious effort to change the way I’ve been raised to think about and perceive race. But I’m ready to change.
So please share your opinions, your experiences. Not only will I become a stronger person, business leader, and family leader, but we will become stronger together when we engage in dialogue.
I’m grateful to have insight on creating change and I believe wholeheartedly that this knowledge will benefit my family. I hope it benefits yours too.
Because change starts here . . . with us.