This is part 2 of the Awkward Social Justice series, where we explore our history as non-activists; trace our inroads into civic engagement and social justice issues; and finally offer a encouragement and resources for others who are just getting started. In this episode, we talk about learning to live justly: the point where we began to put our Awareness to work into engagement and taking Action. Laura talks about the 2 year gap between her big tipping point (Ferguson, 2014) and when she graduated from signal boosting to civic action. Leslie talks about his gradual evolution and a few key moments that have changed his trajectory significantly. This is an invitation to observe where you are in this process, and to be deliberate about the next steps in your own evolution. There are some great resources in the Show Notes to help you do some heavy thinking (mostly on racial injustice, as that remains a theme that is personal for us), and we are always an email away.
In December 2014, Laura wrote the following on Facebook. What we consider must-reads for this podcast are marked with an asterisk:
I've been struggling for words to add to the conversation revolving around the recent exposure of the prejudice and violence endemic in this country. And I realize, I don't have to add to the conversation; I just need to listen better to what is being said.
Our refusal to engage in other people's realities and listen to their stories is what truly divides us in any situation. A lack of compassion always divides.
I've spent the last few weeks just trying to listen, trying to build my compassion in an area where my knee jerk response has all too often been one of self-protective denial. I encourage you to do the same.
I'm linking some of the resources that have had the most impact on me.
Read this excellent article on brain chemistry and the science of unconscious racial prejudice - no one is exempt from this. Consider it an invitation to live a more examined thought-life.
***** Here is some context that outlines the corruption and systemic oppression specifically in St. Louis County. It's a very long article, but well worth the investment.
If it helps build outrage against corruption to see it through the lens of a couple of guys who can't be labeled as "thugs" or dismissed for "resisting arrest," this is a very good example of what American citizens are up against, when they seek justice from a self-protective system.
Amidst all the depressing stuff I read, I was incredibly encouraged by this interview of police chief Kelly McMillin, in Salinas, CA, about how he is training his staff to de-escalate events and build trust in the community that his force truly serves.
This NPR interview with civil rights attorney Constance Rice gives an inside look at mindsets pervasive in the police force. Her solution to the issue is compassion and common sense. (There's also a full transcript available for non-listening types.)
I also appreciated this culture piece that points out how difficult good policing is, and that not everyone is qualified to do it, just because they can pass all the tests.
***** A four-part, time-intensive read that is well worth contemplating is Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations."
Here's my friend Tyler's interview with rapper Propaganda, about the intersection of faith and racial justice:
Finally, as a parent, it's important to me to talk explicitly and age-appropriately with my kids about racism and prejudice. These two articles have thoughtful, research-backed strategies for navigating such conversations: "Inoculating our children against racism" and "Research based advice on teaching children not to be racist."**
- Black Lives Matter: birth of a movement | Wesley Lowery | US news | The Guardian — The killing of Michael Brown created a new generation of black activists, with thousands taking to the streets, and a hashtag used more than 27m times. But will the movement survive the Trump era?
- Amazon.com: Between the World and Me (Audible Audio Edition): Ta-Nehisi Coates, Random House Audio: Books — Written as a letter from father to son explaining the starting line for people of color and the state of the world. It helped Leslie understand that he was born on a side.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates Reads From 'Between the World and Me' - The Atlantic — Ta-Nehisi Coates reads a short passage from his new book, Between the World and Me.