I’m done with the status quo — @heysweetpea's public statement about #BlackLivesMatter
Looking back at historical events, I always thought there were two groups of people: Those who were for something and those who were against something.
But now, as we're living through this historic moment in time, I've realized there's a third (even larger and more dangerous) group of people: Those who are complacent.
It's easy to look back at the Civil War, or racial segregation, or Jim Crow laws and imagine ourselves on the good side, the righteous side, the just side, the humane side. But what we don't often consider is whether or not we would have been the ones who were willing to look the other away, silently consenting to the status quo, and actively acceptant of the fact that we—as white people—were (and still are) direct beneficiaries of systemic racism and white supremacy in the first place.
THIS is why Scott and I chose to protest yesterday—even in the midst of a pandemic.
And THIS is why I’ve chosen to write this public statement now—even though, due to the loss of my grandma and my own health decline last fall, I haven’t been sending newsletters or been active on social media since last summer (minus Instagram Stories and our private Branding School community).
But since the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the public racism of Amy Cooper (which put Christian Cooper’s life at risk), I've had to re-analyze every area within my own life and business where I've personally been complacent—every area where I’ve actively accepted the status quo.
Because even though I've spent the past 9 years deconstructing and reconstructing my entire worldview (after growing up in a very conservative, homeschool, Christian family and then getting disowned by this same family whenever I married Scott) … and even though I’ve spent the past 4 years healing from that trauma and actively listening and learning about racism, privilege, white supremacy, and police brutality ... there are *still areas* where I have silently given my consent.
One of my biggest struggles over the years has been CAPACITY. Through trauma therapy and working with holistic doctors, I have done everything I can to increase that capacity. And yet, last week, I caught myself saying, "I don't have enough capacity to stand against racism AND complete my to-do list.”
Old me would have been okay with that. New me refuses to accept it. So as soon as I caught myself struggling with that line of thinking, I replaced it with this belief instead, "I will create the capacity I need."
(Side Note: Whenever you’re shifting a deeply rooted belief, it’s sometimes easier to rephrase the new belief as, “I am becoming …” So for example, “I am becoming the type of person who creates the capacity they need.” OR “I am becoming the type of business owner who actively stands against racism, white supremacy, and police brutality.”)
All this to say, yes, boundaries still matter. Yes, self-care still matters. And yes, rest still matters.
But if you, too, are a white business owner—and thus, the leader of your own brand—please, please, please hear me when I say this:
This is NOT the time to look away, or to check out, or to scroll through Instagram Stories as quickly as possible.
And this is NOT the time to carry on with business as usual or to silently “support the cause” without also being willing to risk your own comfort, capacity, relationships, and privilege.
This is the time for TRUE learning, ACTIVE listening, and NEW definitions of boundaries, self-care, and rest ... as we all shift into a new awakening and conscious understanding that our privilege is WHY we get to “take a break” from social injustice, racism, and police brutality in the first place.
So my bold (yet loving) question for all of us today is: Are we *still* watching and are we *still* listening?
Because as Glennon Doyle so perfectly wrote:
“We cannot show up for the movement and say, ‘Here we are!’ until we say, ‘We are so damn sorry it took us so long.’ … And so when white women say to me, ‘How do I lead? Where do I begin?’ I say, ‘You do not lead! And you do not begin anything!’ The fight for civil rights is not new, we’re just new to it.”
Which means if we—as humans, leaders, and business owners—do not unlearn what needs to be unlearned and if we do not see what needs to be seen ... we will fail to do the deep work that needs to be done. Because this internal work doesn’t ever stop. There is no arrival point. No moment when this “passes.” There are layers upon layers of denial, racism, and white privilege to unpack. And no one else can do this work FOR us. This is up to us.
Which is why standing with #BlackLivesMatter isn’t only about inclusion and belonging, but also about our own personal commitment—as the beneficiaries of white supremacy and systemic racism—to become “more ethical than the society we grew up in.” - Eliezer Yudkowsky
So please keep watching and please keep listening, my friends. Because your journey may have started here, but it doesn’t end here.
And even though Scott and I are on this journey right alongside you … we are NOT your teachers in this revolution—nor will we ever be.
So if you want to learn … we will share resources we are learning from.
And if you want to go deep … we will connect you to our favorite teachers.
And if you want to go protest … we will protest right alongside you.
But we are NOT the voices or the experts you need right now.
Please look to women of color.
Please listen to women of color.
Please buy from women of color.
Because “the fight for civil rights is not new, we’re just new to it.”
In love and non-complacency,
Elise + Scott
PS: If our stance on racial justice upsets you, please feel free to unsubscribe via the link at the very bottom of this email. You do not need to announce that you are leaving or why you are leaving. Neither Scott or I will be debating anyone on the importance of #BlackLivesMatter or racial justice. This is what we believe, this is who we are, this is what we stand for. Not just as human beings, but as a brand.
But if you are open, willing, and ready to learn/grow/listen right alongside us, then here are a few amazing resources to get you started …
- If you want to understand what “white privilege” even is, this Youtube video is what made it finally click for us a few years ago.
- If you’re a Christian who’s interested in racial healing, equity, and reconciliation, Latasha Morrison’s organization, Be the Bridge, might be the perfect fit for you.
- If you grew up in the church and are struggling to proclaim #BlackLivesMatter, then this video from Pastor Carl Lenz might be a good place to start.
- If you want to know why Scott and I feel called to protest, this video from Carlos Whittaker called, “What My White Friends Can Do Once All The Hashtags Fade,” might be the video to watch.
- If you’ve never heard a successful black woman share her story about racism in America, then you might want to start with “I’m Scared For My Life”—in which Nicole Watlers shares her reality, her grief, and her fear.
- If you want to better understand the domino effect of racial injustice (and what led us all to this moment in time), then Trevor Noah’s video might help explain.
- If you are angry about the death of George Floyd, have mixed feelings about protests, or are confused why this movement has caught on around the world, then Sacil Armstrong (an amazing Branding School 2.0 alumni), might be the person you need right now. She is currently offering two more free classes on Practical Steps to Disrupting Racism and she also has a paid 4-hour intensive whose mantra is, “No blame, no shame, no guilt.”
- If you’re a coach, entrepreneur, or leader who’s interested in learning how to create a safe space and reduce harm in a way that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive, Trudi Lebron’s workshop, Show up and Serve for White Coaches, might be the place to start.
- If you have a Netflix account, then watching “13th” on Netflix might be a good documentary to start with. If you’ve already watched “13th” and are ready for more, here are 12 Documentaries You Should Watch About Racism and Police Brutality in America.
- If you want to be a part of the change within your own city, then start with #8CantWait, which walks you through the eight use-of-force policies that cities can enact to reduce police violence by 72%. Their website makes it super easy to research your city’s policies (literally, with one click of a button). Then, based on how many of the 8 policies your city has enacted, you can easily bring awareness to these missing policies on Instagram or Twitter (with their shareable graphics) OR you can email or call your local mayor (they also provide an email template and phone script).