Do y’all mind if I publicly reflect a little bit?
There’s A LOT going on right now. A lot. So much and on so many scales. On the largest scale we are all dealing with a global pandemic. Beruit, Lebanon is suffering from a deadly explosion. History is repeating through human rights protesting for ALL Black lives. Modern-day slave trading in Libya. ICE still exists. I could go on forever but I think, for the purposes of this blog, it suffices to say, there is complete and utter disregard for human life and rights all over the world. [Please attribute my lack of acknowledging a current crisis as a slip of mind and not intentional exclusion.]
However, transitioning from the macro to the micro, (this is nowhere close to the level of importance as what I mention above) there's a lot going on in our inclusive communities, too. The communities that often serve as a solace. So, as you would expect, when the world is chaotic and your former safe havens are in mayhem too, it can get very overwhelming.
And so there is no room for speculation, I’m not speaking on any one thing. I'm taking a step back to look at all of it.
But it has thrown me into a very self-reflective state. This picture and challenge helped me with that because I found it so easy to throw my accomplishments up there but my failures, I had trouble finding the right words for.
Here are the questions I’ve asked myself as I reflect:
Accountability is a necessity. What should holding people accountable look like?
What does taking responsibility and being accountable look like?
Conflict is bound to happen. How do I approach conflict resolution with everyone’s best interest in mind?
Inclusive and safe spaces are needed. How do we prevent them from be exclusive? Where is that boundary?
When someone does something wrong, is my first instinct to point a finger and get on a soap box? Would I want that done to me?
Am I using inclusive language? Have I said something was “crazy” or “insane” and perpetuated ableism? Have I used a common colloquialism without knowing its racist history? Have I perpetuated a micro-aggression that harms or in some way, stereotypes the LGBTQ+ community? Have I perpetuated elitism amongst my own people in the Black community?
Have I apologized directly and adequately to everyone who requires it from me?
Do I demand from others what I don’t provide or give myself?
Have I watched someone else do harm and ridiculed/judged/acted holier than thou but didn’t learn from their mistake or reflect where I may have done the same thing? Or could do the same thing?
Have I not practiced what I preached?
Who do I owe an explanation, and who don’t I owe an explanation?
Have I recreated the harm that was done to me and done it to others?
Have I lost vision of what the true goal is?
Personally and most important for me - where does God fit into all of this? Has he been at the forefront of my mind during my actions? Or have I become self-serving and aggrandizing?
There are many more but these are what I could come up with for the time being.
Asking myself these questions are not so that I can create a pity party for myself and begin self-loathing. I self-reflect because it's good for my mental health. I self-reflect because it mends relationships and helps me treat the people I care about properly. I self-reflect because it helps me grow. I self-reflect because if I'm going to pave the way for young people behind me, or create spaces for them to comfortably occupy, I want to do it properly.
Self-reflection is so valuable and yet, its free. It prevents me from being "holier than thou". Acting as if I could never be the one in the “hot seat”. It maintains and nurtures my humility. I won’t give unsolicited opinions on situations I have never been in and don’t understand fully, because I think about how that feels when it’s done to me. I recognize nuance matters. And that virtually nothing happens in a vacuum.
This is not some call to action for the world or anybody else. I’m not taking this as an opportunity to call out all of the ways everyone else is doing something wrong, but to acknowledge all the ways I might have contributed to harm. Whether public or in private, whether in my career or personal life. Whether to friends or to strangers or people I don't even know yet. I write these words online but I’m really just talking to myself. I have absolutely fallen short. I missed opportunities to practice compassion to the next person. I’ve participated and been complicit in people’s harm. In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether it was intentional or unintentional.
I have no intentions of policing anybody’s expression or how they react or don’t react. I’m just hoping that in my sharing of my own reflections, it could encourage others to do some self-reflection too. It’s an integral part of my healing, self-preservation and self-evolution. And it's an integral part of keeping together the communities/spaces we, and the people who came before us, worked so hard create.