I have proudly indulged in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for over a decade. It’s unique flavor combinations have complemented my high school breakups, accented my gossipy girls nights in, and served as the perfect pick-me-up after long, stressful days at work. But last week, when I found out that Ben & Jerry’s released a bold statement standing in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaking out against systemic and institutionalized racism, I had never been so proud to have given one company so much of my money over the years. Continue reading “3 Important Lessons that Ben & Jerry’s Support for #BlackLivesMatter Taught Us”
It’s been a painful and challenging week. From stomaching the horrifying deaths of two unarmed Black men at the hands of white police officers, to watching or being among the protesters in Charlotte being teargassed, to being subjected to listening to the distorted, institutional biased media coverage, all while having to show up and be fully present at work and in our daily routines, I’ve straddled between feeling drained and distraught all week.
I am exhausted. Exhausted from seeing the final, tragic moments of my brothers’ and sisters’ lives plastered across TV screens and computer monitors around the country. Exhausted from living in a country where Black people are seen and treated as the dangerous and provoking enemy despite being on the receiving end of centuries-long genocide and murder at the hands of white people. Exhausted from having to explain to my white friends and colleagues why I seem to “always be talking about race.” Exhausted from carrying the burden of systemic racism on my back, knowing that it will rear its ugly head at some point in my day. Exhausted from the incessant reminders that Black lives should be feared and ended, rather than valued and understood. Exhausted from seeing white people go on about their merry lives while I struggle to feel safe in my skin. Exhausted from living within the confines of an inherently racist country, knowing that there are limitations to my freedom. Exhausted from having to explain why my life matters.
In a perfect world, we’d all see eye to eye. Despite our differences, we’d understand each other’s lived experiences, and lead with demonstrating empathy and support. We’d avoid making harsh generalizations or rash judgments, and rather than characterizing or shunning certain behaviors and stances that we didn’t understand, we would graciously accept the fact that not understanding something doesn’t make it wrong.
Being Black in a profession that requires specialized training and/or credentialing is a complex and inevitably isolating experience. Despite companies and organizations ramping up diversity efforts in recent years, the white-collar workforce is still overwhelming white. 8 out of every 10 lawyers are white; 80.8% of social scientists are white; 78.2% of education professionals are white; nearly three-quarters of business professionals are white; over 70% of healthcare professionals, engineers, and physical scientists are white. The list goes on and on.
It’s all good until people of color start coming for what has historically been explicitly reserved for white people.
As we’re all aware, we have a long, disturbing, brutal history of racism in our country. The construct of race itself was created to ensure white people would consistently benefit from the systems of our government, while guaranteeing the opposite outcome for people of color. It’s important to understand that the fight for racial justice and reconciliation didn’t begin with this idea of “leveling the playing field” that is often discussed in race relations today. Instead, it began with the desire to just be seen and treated as human. It began with the yearning to not live in a constant state of fear. It began as a fight for survival.