My business has been closed for two and a half months, and I have been locked in my house with my husband and our two teenagers. I went into this lockdown marathon with an understanding that it was for the greater good, and I was ok with it. If I can do my part to save a life, I was in. Financially I was concerned but found solace in the fact that I wasn’t alone.
In some ways the unity was comforting. As time went on, our money was running out, I was eating cookies for dinner, and the insomnia began to torture me nightly. My warm and fuzzy feelings of hope slowly began to deteriorate into fear and uncertainty. As I lay awake at night while the rest of my family snoozed just feet away, my mind was anything but quiet. Questions swirled like little terrorists inside my head.
- Are our students ok?
- Are they learning enough?
- Will the grants and loans ever come through to keep us a float?
- Will my landlord work with us?
- What is my plan B?
- What will happen to our industry?
The longer this goes on the scarier it seems, and the weight of things was crushing me. Between the lack of sleep, concerns with the virus, worry about getting my company through this and being locked inside with my family things were tense. It began to feel oppressive. I wanted to be mad at someone, but in reality, there was no one to blame.
Like most of you I took this time to reflect. This life pause was like a giant reset button. It was a chance to step back and look at my current state of affairs and decide what was adding to me, and what was taking away from me.
But while everyone was locked inside, there was trouble brewing in neighborhoods across America that would change the course of history.
The pandemic shutdowns, high unemployment rates and continued disregard for black lives have created the perfect storm for a revolution, and the killing of George Floyd, on May 25th, was the catalyst that set everything in motion.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Most people have no idea what black people face today.
Women feeling like they can’t wear their natural curls because it is viewed as unprofessional, people of color having to worry about their safety and lives with every encounter with the authorities, being under paid, not getting jobs they were qualified because of their color, feeling that they can’t be themselves around white people, people being nervous to see a black person walk by them, assumptions that black people are all poor, and the list goes on.
As a hairdresser and a lifelong public servant, I have learned a great deal about understanding other cultures and seeing points of view from all sides. We are trained to remain cool headed and neutral.
Never talk about sex, religion, or politics, we’re told, but we are only human, and thing slip out.
In order to ensure that those quiet conversations never went sideways I had to learn to see other people's perspectives and meet them where they are. I wanted my chair to always be a safe space for my clients.
Their cultures and beliefs may be different, but I'm there to listen, and try and understand. I learned to shut my mouth and listen to their story. Without judgement. Without fear. Just listened.
Do you know what happened? I learned something about tolerance. I learned something about compassion. I learned something about what makes us different. Without deliberately interacting and listening to people that come from different countries, races, social statuses, or wealth classes you never get a chance to see life from their vantage point.
WHAT WE CAN DO
As a white person, it’s easy to sit back and judge the way the protests look because as white people have never had to fight this hard for basic human rights like oxygen. We need to stand back and look at the whole picture. We need to realize that this is different than the protests before. This will not just go away. It won’t be pretty but change rarely is. Remember to value the unjust loss of life over damaged property, because that is insured and will be replaced. Don’t be the resistance. Demand better for our fellow Americans. They are our family, our friends, our clients and our neighbors and they deserve better always. Not just when someone is looking.
- Use the opportunity you have with your minority clients and coworkers to ask questions.
- Listen to their stories and always be their champion.
- Ask them how you can help them and how you can be their advocate.
- As citizens of the world it is all our responsibility to end racism by fighting for those that need their voices to be louder. Use your voice to change minds and educate those that just don’t know about the injustices our fellow Americans face. Some people just genuinely don’t know because they lack the experience with people that don’t look like them.
- You may be met with resistance but don’t stop sharing and educating even if you don’t think it will help.
Ending hate in our country is the responsibly of us all. Please join me in demanding better for our people. We ALL deserve happiness and peace and somehow, we have been distracted by fighting from the left and the right and lost sight of what is important.
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