Where Do I Begin?

Dear Friends:

So much has happened in this past week, it is hard to land on what I want to share with you.  I will tell you I have been very emotional – grieved actually, but I am always reflective.  Here are my top four observations.

Observation 1 – I am heartened by how many people are grieving with us.  We, African Americans have been grieving for a long time.  It encourages me that so many of my friends are now grieving too.  Not because I want them to be sad, but because I want us to be real friends, and that includes being hurt by the things that hurt each other.  If you are a person of color and are receiving support from friends who are just now understanding the injustice, don’t judge them, but welcome them into your world.

Observation 2 – We have to talk.  It’s hard because we know we disagree, but we still must talk.  I shared with a friend about my concern for the country if the current administration gets four more years.  It has been racially hostile, and don’t know what it means if the country votes for more of it. She is clear that racial equality is not a top ballot issue for her, and yet and I know she cares for me and my family.  It’s complex, and I am not sure she fully sees the implications of ranking other issues ahead of civil rights, equity and safety. I think part of it is she does not believe the inequality is systemic.  This underscores why we have to talk because she doesn’t know. It’s easy not to see if you are not poor and black.  I am hoping one day we won’t have to choose, but until we do, we have to be honest about who is standing with us and who is not. That’s, no doubt, tough to swallow on both ends, but we have to tell the truth about it.

Observation 3 – People are looking for a way to do something to feel better. Unfortunately, this ugly truth won’t go away with a petition or a check or a march.  All of those things are helpful, but it will go away only with time and work to change how we engage.  We may have to sit with the pain for a minute while we learn and grow. If we do the work, it will get better.

Observation 4 – We have to dismantle the system.  The way to do that is to stop colluding on the small things.  Stop letting falsehoods stand as truth. The Minneapolis Police Department said the CNN reporter did not identify himself, as explanation for his arrest.  That is not true, and CNN has complained, but until this communicator is accountable, the lie and system remains intact.  The truth is these little lies are all around us and contribute to the more egregious crimes.  Some will make excuses for Amy Cooper, but her lie could have led to a larger crime.  All of these lies contribute to the system of social oppression.  We have to dismantle the entire system through all of the small pieces.  Let’s all pay attention and call out the lies. If you do that, you will change things where you are.  If we all do it, we will change it everywhere. The truth really will set us free.

Take care of yourselves and each other,

Dr. Lisa

PS: Your Theme Song is, “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers.
PPS: We could use two songs this week – “Love Train” by The O’Jays.



Comments 4

  1. Ckerridge27
    July 8, 2020

    As a Black woman in corporate America, I have frequently felt as if I needed to suppress my blackness to fit it. With these conversations, it will allow many of us to speak openly about suppression and racism. I’m surprised about how many people are oblivious to their (or other’s) actions. These unconscious and conscious biases need to be part of the everyday conversation so we can move forward because as Maya Angelou has said, “when you know better you do better”.

    1. Dr. Lisa Toppin
      July 13, 2020

      Well I appreciate you CKerringde27. When we know better we hope to do better. We certainly can do better. I am glad to hear you say you are feeling more free to speak openly about the suppression and oppression that black folks face through racism. I think George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Aubrey and others helped the world see that racism is a real things not a made up thing. So keep talking and find those that can support you. Don’t hesitate to ask them for their outward support. It will take your courage and theirs but we can know better and do better.

  2. lmnichol13
    June 15, 2020

    It has been an awakening for me, my friend. While I know there is racism, I haven’t seen it as systemic as I now know it is. For your parents, you and your family and others to have been successful in spite of the environment in which you found yourselves is inspirational to me. We need to do better and help our children build a world which values all and helps those who need help. It’s not a win-lose world we live in; I can afford to help others and not lose myself. Thanks for sharing your podcast and helping educate us all! Love you!

    1. Dr. Lisa Toppin
      June 22, 2020

      Hey Friend!
      Yes, George Floyd was not in vain. He died so it could be unequivocally clear and we have all awakened to the system that for far too long has kept us from talking about it. With a new lens, we can get to work!

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