Why am I doing what I am doing?

In times of high stress, humans generally revert to Fight, Flight or Freeze mode, and we’re seeing this so clearly in the response to the global anti-racism movement:

  1. Fight – those of us who are passionate about the cause, keen to get involved and help make change happen (or those who are actively, aggressively against it!)
  2. Flight – those of us who cannot bear to deal with the reality of the situation and would rather avoid it if they can
  3. Freeze – those of us who are overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation, and have no idea where to even begin

I’ve learned from Harriet Lerner‘s work that we generally respond to anxiety with action or inaction – constant activity or procrastination – and I am definitely in the former category. I am a do-er. A never-sit-still-er. I cope with my fear of being lazy or not good enough by making sure I am constantly doing something.

But what am I actually doing right now, and why am I doing it?

Nova Reid’s Instagram post today gave me an invitation to reflect on this – click here to read the caption in full.

Am I sharing and posting and talking about racism out of guilt or shame or wanting to appear to be a “good person” or “the best ally”?

Is my sharing simply a narcissistic form of performative allyship?

It’s a good question for us all to ask ourselves.

In my case, I don’t believe it is.

I know I have rushed headfirst into this issue, and I do feel ashamed that it took me and so many of us this long to wake up and realise the enormity of the situation.

But I believe I am genuinely trying to learn, to understand, to amplify, support and promote the voices of black people who have already been doing the work long before I realised how much work there was to be done.

I deal with anxiety through action, and while starting a new job during lockdown was already enough cause for anxiety, the realisation that in 2020 we are still dealing with such serious issues of racial inequality and injustice has simply lead me to say:

Enough is enough.

No more.

I may be new to the area of anti-racism work, but I am not new to the issue of racism.

This has always been a passion close to my heart, in an incredibly inexplicable way it is something I have always felt personally affected by – possibly because I am Not White, a fact that I have only recently fully realised, possibly because I am just an empathetic person, or maybe because this is the cause I was born to be involved in, in some way, shape or form. I hate that it is even a cause – I thought I had missed out my chance to be involved in the Civil Rights Era of the 1960’s – I had no idea it would still be a problem today.

So, I am using my platform and my privilege to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can, and pass it on to hopefully help others to do the same. I have no idea where this journey is taking us, but I believe we are seeing genuine meaningful change happen, if/when we all come together to make this a reality.

If you’d like to know more, or you’re not sure where to start, try some of the Anti-Racism Resources I’ve put together so far, or comment below if you have any other suggestions, so we can all learn together.

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