Right now, there are two pandemics in the United States ----COVID-19 and racism.
"COVID-19 has claimed more than 100,000 American lives, and unequal access to quality medical care has contributed to the incredibly disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among traditionally under served Black and Brown populations. The other pandemic - institutional racism - has been responsible, in some way or another, for untold fatalities for more than 400 years" ( NASW Social Work blog ).
During this time of reckoning, repair, and change, I have often felt overwhelmed and confused with how to be of service to my community supporting the pursuit of equity, justice, inclusion, and solidarity.
My pronouns are she, her, hers, and I am a White, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied woman. These identities have advantaged me throughout my life and have only recently been examined.
As a person who has benefited from these identities, I have been hesitant to get involved in the process of social change because I have been uncertain of my role in the process, fearful of making mistakes, of unintentionally centering myself, and/or of being criticized. My desire to participate in social change in the "perfect" or "right" way has been a barrier to finding my purpose and role.
I was recently introduced to the work of Deepa Iyer, a South Asian American writer, strategist, lawyer, and racial justice advocate. Whether you are a newcomer to the work of social change or have regularly participated in movements or organizations where you are called to action, I have found Deepa Iyer's framework entitled Mapping our Roles in a Social Change Ecosystem useful in helping me reflect on what role I play in the process of social change.
Brene Brown, a White social work scholar and author states, "I want to get it right, not be right," in her recent interview with Austin Channing Brown , a Black author, speaker, and leader in racial justice work in America. Her words along with Iyer's framework have helped me navigate how my perfectionist tendencies and my desire to be perceived as "right" have interfered with my involvement.
When thinking about social change, Iyer asks her readers to reflect on the question, "When (and not if) I make mistakes, how do I acknowledge them and course correct without feeling like I've failed?"
Making mistakes is an inevitable part of being human. Making mistakes and acknowledging them is a practice I continue to invite into my life. Apologizing in a way that acknowledges my intentions and the impact my intentions have had on others is a good place to start.
I invite you to reflect on the experience of "being right" versus "getting it right" and how this may show up not only in your involvement in social change, but also in your interpersonal and intra-personal life. What, if anything, is the barrier to your involvement in activating change within yourself, your relationships, or your community? How does acknowledging this obstacle invite you to engage in the cycle of taking action....making mistakes.... doing better....dialogue and reflection....taking action....making mistakes....doing better......?
Click here to view our complete newsletter.