My wife and I took a “marriage dynamics” class through our church many years ago, and one of the most important lessons I got out of it was related to effective listening.
Specifically, when someone speaks about an issue they’re experiencing, don’t try (in your obviously infinite wisdom and experience) to swoop in with simple solutions to a complex problem, or worse, start competing in a “who’s had it worse” battle.
Just shut up and listen. You might actually learn something.
The other person has experienced things that you haven’t (and in many cases, never will), and simply wants to be heard in full without your interruptions, attempts at quick fixes or dismissals sometimes designed to assuage your own guilt.
When it comes to racism in America, have you been a bad listener in the past? Were you hot and bothered when Colin Kaepernick peacefully kneeled? Have you argued that all lives matter? Do you think that people shouldn’t see color?
You blew it big-time, but there’s a path forward, and it doesn’t involve you obliviously plowing forward by posting empty black squares and hashtags on your Instagram feed.
It starts with you apologizing (both privately and publicly on social media) to those you’ve hurt, and it continues with you shutting up, continually listening and using your privilege to boost and assist black voices.
Now I’ll take my own advice and leave you with these powerful messages that a couple of friends have posted over the past few days:
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