It’s time for all of us to lead

An important reminder popped up in my Facebook feed today:

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To fellow white people reading this: For concrete tips on what you can do, read White People: Here’s How You Can Help After the Racist Attack in Virginia.

As the author, Kristen Tea, states, “It’s not enough to tweet condolences or show up once for a women’s march.” 

I’ve been paralyzed, personally. My M.O. has been to try to tune it all out, binge watch TV, drink a lot, and feel bad about myself — privilege personified. I entered an MFA program in TV writing because I realized that my path to change is by changing the stories we tell in popular culture, more than it is being a community organizer or running for office. And that’s all well and good. So is meditating and trying to show up with love and patience for my daughter and husband and all the other people in my life. That all matters, very much.

But it’s not enough. It doesn’t matter how hard it is for me. How scrambled my brains feel. How worn out I am from unemployment or the insanity of this world or raising a young child or all of the above. It doesn’t matter. What’s happening in this world is not an opt-in, opt-out situation. If you aren’t leading to the fullest of your potential as a human being to create the change we need to see in this world, then you are hiding out in privilege, and that is a morally bereft and unacceptable place to be. 

It’s where I’ve been hiding, but no more. As a pastor who witnessed white supremacist violence in Charlottesville stated, baldly: Donald Trump is not a leader.

All of our so-called leaders are failing us.

No one’s riding in on a white horse to save the day.

Which is why we need to ride the white horse.

We need to save the day.

I make it sound like I’ve been totally inactive, and that’s not true. My self-deprecating rant above ignores that I’m the director of communications for a nonprofit in Brooklyn called Little Essentials that helps families with young children suffering from poverty. My family also sporadically makes sandwiches or muffins for a local food pantry. 

Yay, me.

Yes, of course, these actions matter, but I see now that they are not enough. They are the least, not the most, that I can do.

If I am going to lead to the fullest extent of my potential, then I need to figure out a way to use my powers as a writer and communicator to persuade more privileged white people to lead to the fullest of their potential.

It starts with this blog post. More to come. Not sure what it will look like. Ideas welcome.

Until this week, I’d only been to the Women’s March, but Sunday night I dragged my tired, overwhelmed ass off the couch and went to a vigil for Heather and Charlottesville here in Beacon, NY where I’m staying for a couple of weeks. It was inspiring and energizing and while I realize it’s not about me and my brownie points, it may have been just the action I needed to spur me into further action.

Action begets action. So many of us are paralyzed, overwhelmed, depressed, hitting refresh on Facebook. Well, what’s one thing you can you do today to break out of your bubble of privilege — the bubble where taking action feels optional? What’s one thing you can do to use your privilege to fight for those who have none?

I use the word “fight” deliberately. Together, we need to fight the war on decency that Nazis and white supremacists are raging on the rest of us.

And, yes: This is war.


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