Our hearts are broken for the families and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
This sad moment in history calls for real leadership at all levels: from the individual level to the global level. Specifically, we need the type of leadership that is committed to taking skillful and pragmatic action, based on a deep understanding and acknowledgement of the problem of racism.
So, how do we come to deep understanding? We believe we can arrive there only after we have spent time deeply listening.
In your WLF cohorts, we talk about the distinction between Level I and Level II listening. As a reminder, Level I listening is defined as “listening with the intention to respond” and Level II listening is defined as “listening with the intent to understand.”
We need Level II listening right now.
Last week, we were discussing the topic of listening in one of the current WLF cohorts. The exercise for this topic was to think of someone who is a really good listener then to think about how this person makes you feel and what you think of the person. We noticed that, without exception, the people who really listen to us make us feel seen and heard. This makes us feel respected by them and in turn makes us have respect for them. Now is the moment to bring that skill forward to listen to the Black and Brown voices in your life.
In an effort to listen more and speak less, WLF is muting our own content on social media this week, to join the #amplifymelanatedvoices campaign. We applaud Alishia McCullough (@blackandembodied) and Jessica Wilson, MS, RD (@jessicawilson.msrd) for founding this movement and encourage you to follow these inspiring women on social media.
Practice: Practice Listening to Black and Brown Voices at Level II
Remember that this kind of listening is very challenging, because our brains think faster than we can talk. In addition, we are often wanting to solve the problem or win the argument rather than truly understand the other person. See if you can notice some of the ways in which you may be blocking your understanding:
Assuming you know what the other person feels and thinks without asking.
Listening only to things that are relevant to you and ignoring the rest (even if it’s important to the other person).
Evaluating the other person and what they say, rather than really trying to understand how they see the world.
Looking for suggestions and solutions instead of listening and understanding.
Resisting or ignoring any communication that suggests you are wrong or should change.
Agreeing too quickly (“I know… you’re right… I’m sorry) without really listening to the other person’s feelings or concerns.
When you notice a listening block, simply come back to a mindset of curiosity.
(Source: “Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook” by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley)
Inspiration: As we practice listening deeply this week, there are so many voices we need to hear. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of these voices.
Large segments of white society are more concerned with tranquility and the status quo, than about justice, equality, and humanity. So in a real sense, our nation’s summer riots are caused by our nations winters of delay.
Riot is the language of the unheard.
Calls to Action
You can increase your understanding by reading. We love these books:
How to Be an Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
Women, Race, and Class – Angela Y. Davis
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
We have made a donation and suggest the following for your consideration:
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Color of Change
Black Lives Matter
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