I’ll never forget the words that shivered down my spine, “I want you to minimize the amount of time you hang out with her. I don’t like the way you sound and act after spending time with her.”
These were the words of my mother referencing my interaction with Latrina, my best friend and classmate from my private Lutheran school in Los Angeles, CA. The year was 1984, I was 9 years old. My mother had just picked me up from Latrina’s house after a really fun sleepover.
“What is so wrong or bad about the way I sound,” I questioned.
Her response, “I don’t want you to act like those people.”
I was devastated. I knew my mother’s perspective on this was wrong. Every ounce of me knew it. I refused to accept her notion and argued with her for a good bit until she shushed me.
‘Those’ people she referenced were different because my skin was a snowy shade of white with a mass of cute little freckles and Latrina’s skin was a beautiful deep chocolatey shade of black. Culturally, her family was different than mine and so was the way they spoke. It was as though they had an accent from another part of the country. I loved it and enjoyed the interaction. To this day, it seems that wherever I travel in the world, I tend to pick up accents quickly. I’ve got a bit of an ear for it.
Gentle, fun, loving and a good friend, Latrina was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.
My own mother was racist and yet blind to it.
I’ve never shared this story with another human being, till now. Why? I was ashamed for my mother and embarrassed about what that may mean about me.
Truth is, we all have a choice. We have a decision to choose how we view ourselves and others in the world. We have a choice to be afraid of the differences in others or cherish and celebrate them. Certainly, we all have our unconscious bias’. But friends, we also have choice.
Mom is a good person, yet she was afraid of different. It is this same kind of fear, however, that perpetuates evil.
I’m fascinated that as Burning Man, a celebration of all things different, gears up in one part of the US, in other parts white supremacists are protesting against lovely human beings based on their race. How can this be? What a dichotomy!
Why does so much hate still exist? I can’t help but pose this question into the vastness of the Universe. My heart breaks.
My dear friend, Daniel Karsevar, shared a post yesterday about the historically documented story of his family during the Holocaust. It’s a story about survival, and it’s a story about how hatred and white supremacy destroys families. Many of the most incredible human beings I know, love, admire, and cherish are Jewish.
One of my best friends is a Modern Muslim and has had a very understandable discomfort with sharing this publicly. Anti-Muslim hatred is on the rise across the world thanks to the radicalists who don’t represent the majority of the Muslim community.
Many friends have shared the pain of being shamed based on their sexual orientation. I ask you, how can love be wrong?
As a woman, I’ve certainly experienced my own version of discrimination, stories which I’ve often shared within our One More Woman community.
In his post, Daniel shared the now famous quote usually attributed to Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, which states: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good (wo)men do nothing." I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.
It’s easy to get caught up in anger over injustice. Yet, I continue to come back to the lesson and legacy of Gandhi. Hate doesn’t kill hate – it perpetuates it! In a recent New York Times article this sentiment is perfectly reflected.
Late last year I spoke on the SociaLIGHT stage in Vancouver. It was a rather radical talk about feminism and I challenged both men and women to do better. About a month later, I was on a call with Jon Berghoff, who had been in the audience and listened to my talk. In true Jon style, he lovingly shared his insights and suggestions on how to lean into an Appreciative Inquiry approach to my message. Jon’s suggestions were very Gandhi like and our conversation moved me. Thanks Jon!
SO HOW CAN WE AS LEADERS NOT PERPETUATE HATE AND YET CREATE THE CHANGE WE DESIRE?
Well, as Andrea Shillington would say, “it starts within ourselves.” In a conversation with her last year she mentioned her belief that the way we can heal the world is by first healing ourselves. I wholeheartedly agree with her AND I also believe that we need to use our strengths and voice, to speak up. We all have people like Eduardo Placer, KC Baker, and Lisa Ferguson to thank for daily inspiration in being brave enough to move into action in this way.
Here’s the deal…
WE ARE IN CRISIS – IT IS AN EMERGENCY STATE.
As white supremacy and other forms of hatred are widespread across the streets of America and the world, it is a telling symptom of a greater problem. Fear and pain are running rampant. Evil left unchallenged can become very destructive. More eloquently put by Burke, “when bad (wo)men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
Friends, what would happen if we all let go of what others think and aligned with our true north? Asking ourselves what do I need to do to be the person I admire most?
What would happen if we lead our businesses with love first, profit second?
What would happen if we became masterful at both giving and receiving?
What would happen if we leveraged and incented each person’s unique superpowers to come forward as equals in the world?
What would happen if we stopped looking at each other as competition and focused on how we can collaborate?
Here’s my challenge to all of us…
LET’S STAND TOGETHER BY STEPPING INTO THE NEW LOVE ECONOMY!
Today when you look up as the eclipse travels above, may it remind you that we are all one - sharing the same light, breathing the same air, living on a planet that needs each of our unique gifts and strengths.
What would Gandhi do, what would Jesus do, what would Buddha do, what would Mohammad do, what would any conscious and moral leader do? They would lead with love.
What will you do?
May the force (of love) be with you.