(cross-posted from www.lizatalusan.com)
I have the great privilege of facilitating workshops, offering keynote addresses, and working in small group discussions on issues such as race, identity, gender, sexuality, ability, education and activism.
After creating space for dialogue, learning and talking, I always get this question: “So, Liza. All this talk is great, BUT, what am I supposed to do?”
My short answer, “Well, here’s what works for ME. I …..”
(insert any and all of the following):
- educate myself by reading blogs, essays, books and articles;
- engage online through Twitter or Facebook postings/groups;
- follow and participate in #hastags to learn more through the voices of people;
- research and watch documentaries, films, shorts, and specials;
- talk with my partner, children, coworkers or family;
- sign a petition for a cause that I have learned about;
- support groups and organizations that are fighting for the cause I have researched or learned about;
- make personal statements whenever I hear comments that are discriminatory, racist, homophobic, rude, or unfounded in data or experience;
- influence policy and practices to disrupt heteronormative, cisnormative, White-lensed approaches;
- go to conferences, workshops, presentations and lectures;
- engage in conversations that are difficult and emotional;
- listen to understand;
- ask questions;
- respond on social media in meaningful and appropriate and kind yet challenging ways
- ….. on and on ….
I go through about 5-10 minutes with the things that work FOR ME. Some people nod. Some people jot down notes. Some people take out their phones and take screen shots of whatever it is I have posted on the projector.
And, someone always then says, “But, what am I supposed to do?”
My answer: “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.” The person then sits down, crosses their arms, and shuts down. That was not the (Droid) answer you were looking for.
Friends, I don’t have your answer.
I can’t tell you that any of my strategies will work for you. I can’t tell you that your life will be turned around or that your world will be much larger or that your heart will be bigger if you do the things that I do.
Friends, I don’t have your ANSWER.
You’ll have to learn more. You’ll have to talk more. And, once you think you’ve done those things. You’ll have to learn about something different. You’ll have to talk to someone different. And, once you’ve done those things, then you’ll have to circle back and learn more about yourself. And, you’ll have to get comfortable talking about yourself — your strengths, your weaknesses, your life, and your challenges.
THEN, the “do” … the “DO” will be obvious. What you’ll need to DO becomes obvious TO YOU.
Friends, I don’t have YOUR answer.
Only you have YOUR answer. You’re the only one who can decide whether or not you are ready to learn. You are the only one who can decide whether or not you are ready to talk. And, you are the only one who can decide whether or not you are ready to DO. That’s your answer. That’s how your “things I can do…” list gets created. You can listen to all of the things that work for me, but, those only work for ME because they are MY ANSWERS.
People often come to workshops on race or identity or diversity because they are looking for answers. They are looking for solutions.
People get frustrated when they leave with more questions.
I get it. I really do.
I get that you want to get started on eradicating racism. I get that you want to get started on dismantling homophobia. I get that you want to get started on decolonizing education.
And, if you are learning about it and talking about it, then you are already starting.
Find YOUR answer. Find YOUR to-do items. Find YOUR personal steps that are a result of having spent a considerable amount of time learning and talking and talking and learning.
I’m not implying that our world can simply wait idly by for you to read and talk. No. That’s not it at all.
I am inviting you to you take responsibility for the great burden of learning and talking so that you can start getting things done.
Peace and Park,