Addressing Racism: How to Feel Less Disheartened & More Empowered to Make Change

Spoiler alert: After being away from my blog (being renamed, my journal) for several months, I’ve made the decision to start writing again. Second spoiler alert: I’m also in the midst of launching my new website and have already written my first journal entry for it. However, in light of recent events, I’ve decided to put finishing my site on hold for now and direct my attention to writing this post, instead.

I’m stepping way out of my comfort zone.

Full transparency: I’m nervous and uncomfortable talking about racism. My usual social media posts are about motherhood, my kids, and photography—lighthearted and easy to talk about. That being said, my husband and I have taken many calculated risks throughout our lives together, so writing this post is a risk I’m willing to take.

In the world of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned how important it is to do the things that are uncomfortable and hard to do. When I work on Cozy Escapes (our getaway rental business), there are a lot of unknowns to figure out and challenging work to tackle. But I’ve learned that discomfort leads to great things. By applying that same mindset, it’s my hope that talking about something uncomfortable can lead to something great. These are my thoughts and my perspective.

It’s easy to feel disheartened and discouraged right now. It feels like the world is on fire, and it literally is. Scrolling through social media overwhelms me. It’s amazing to see so many people sharing resources and insight—but having too many choices often leads to making no decision at all (this is coming from someone who struggles to order off a menu at a restaurant with too many options). I also didn’t want to be crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing or being judged. So, I decided to step away from the information overload on social media and begin where it makes sense for me.

I went to school for engineering. The problem-solving mindset is always with me. So, I wanted to take a more problem-solving approach to how I look at racism. I hope this helps you, too.

1. Assess yourself and understand your motivation

Self-awareness is hard. The truth is, if I’m going to make a change in myself, I need to know what needs changed in the first place. I’ve always thought, “of course I’m not racist,” but there’s so much more I need to acknowledge about myself:

  • I haven’t been exposed to much diversity.
  • I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color, and I will never truly understand.
  • While I don’t like to admit it, I’ve to come to terms with the fact that I have unconscious biases.
  • I live a very comfortable lifestyle with many opportunities. I don’t need to feel guilty about this, but I do need to recognize and be thankful for the many blessings I have.

Next, it’s important for me to acknowledge why I want to make a change. We’re all motivated in different ways. Social media posts were not motivating me—I was just feeling anxious. So, I thought about why I personally needed to do something:

2. Take ownership of your education

In my marriage, I want my husband to understand me. I want him to understand my goals, challenges, and feelings. I know how much better I feel when I feel understood. In fact, our relationship is much stronger when we both feel understood, and we’re both happier when we understand each other’s perspectives. Therefore, I see the importance of making an effort to try and understand.

My Instagram feed was flooded with book recommendations. But I wanted to take ownership of my education and do some of my own research. I’m busy. We’re all busy. However, I truly believe if something is important enough, you’ll make time for it.

I wanted to find an audiobook on racism that was faith based. I believed it would help with my understanding. So, I did some searching online and listened to some book previews on Audible. I also avoided decision paralysis by knowing I can listen/read multiple books.

Right now, I’m almost finished listening to The Third Option by Miles McPherson. It shows God’s way for bridging the gap of racial division. It’s providing me with new perspectives on racism and next steps to take, while also strengthening my faith (I love being efficient!). The moral of the story? Find the right books for you. 

That being said, books aren’t the only way to increase your understanding. As I mentioned before, my nieces and nephew are half black. Therefore, my family is an amazing resource to gain a better understanding. All I had to do was simply ask my sister-in-law to share her perspective. Why did I wait so long?

3. Brainstorm and make a plan

How daunting does solving the problem of racism sound? How long has this issue been around? How does one person solve the problem of racism? I compared this overwhelming issue to entrepreneurship again. I have so many business ideas and a vision for the future. I’ve seen in my own work experience that vague, non-specific actions rarely ever lead to progress. It’s only when I’ve broken down the large problem into very small, specific actions that I see real change. So, I wanted to apply that same mindset to making a plan to change.

I thought about my God-given gifts. I thought about my skills, knowledge, and resources. And then I began brainstorming. Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • I’m currently taking a branding videography course in order to create video content for small businesses (third spoiler alert!). I could easily donate my time and talent to important non-profits.
  • My husband is on the board for Catholic Social Services—I’m sure they could recommend organizations.
  • My husband will be a full-time student for another year. Therefore, we have more time to do things than if he were working a full-time job. How can we use our extra free time?
  • We need to discuss and decide how we talk to our kids about race.
  • We read with our kids. Our book collection needs expanded. We pray with our kids. We should pray with them for a world that celebrates differences.

Truth be told, I’m still brainstorming and need to explore more ideas with my husband. Some will be short term actions we can begin right away. Others, will be a more long term plan.I look forward to coming up with specific ideas for what we can do together. Inspiring others on social media was not part of my personal “why” for taking action. Therefore, I’ve made the decision not to share my action plan once it’s complete. This is something that will be ongoing. It will evolve and change through different seasons of life. It will be something that we constantly work at and continue to reevaluate.

After reading this, my hope is that you feel more encouraged to talk about racism, less discouraged about the world we are living in, and empowered to take ownership of your education. It’s time to use your unique skills and resources to make a change.

A quick update 

In the few days between drafting this post and publishing it, I’ve had great conversations with my husband and sister-in-law, and finished listening to the book I mentioned earlier. It’s amazing how the small steps have made a huge impact on me.