We all wear uniforms.
Blue overalls. A suit and tie. White lab coat. School clothes. Police uniform…
Dare I say, the colour of our skin.
Some uniforms we choose. Some we don’t. Some we can’t.
But we can’t let our uniforms define us. We can’t let our uniforms lock us into uniformity.
Growing up in Sydney’s west as the only Asian family within the local neighbourhood, I experienced racism multiple times. So much so I hated my “Asian uniform” and boy how I wish I could have taken the uniform off and become a “white person”. I didn’t know how to process it as a young person and that caused me to rebel against my Asian culture and my parents, thinking that our culture was the problem. I’ve learnt since, that rebelling against a uniform was not the answer.
With everything that is happening in the USA right now, I’m LISTENING. I don’t want to presume anything and I know that I can’t fully empathise with what my black friends have been experiencing. But I also know I can’t let physical distance be an excuse for not caring and not drawing closer to understand. We have seen through this COVID-19 period, that distance is merely a boundary put up by our own minds. Technology itself has paved a pathway to closeness if we so choose to walk towards it.
So to the million dollar question: WHAT CAN WE DO? Many of my friends, especially those outside of the USA, genuinely want to do more than a social post. So here’s some suggested thoughts encouraged by those who have been experiencing the pain day in day out for decades:
Find your own heart of compassion. Compassion needs to be felt in the inner depths of an individual’s heart and not stuck at some intellectual concept in the head. Compassion can’t just be “outsourced” to the social purpose organisations. If all you find is indifference and apathy within, pray for a heart that would be moved and sensitive to the pain around you.
Lean in to listen and learn. Intentionally carve out time to watch videos/articles/interviews where the current issues are being discussed. Understand the history, the complexity, the nuances. Even better, connect with an individual from the black community. Ask questions. And just listen.
Partner with individuals and organisations already doing great work to both combat racial systemic issues and elevate the value of human life. Allocate time, money and capital as you feel led. But please please please don’t just start a “ministry” or something without knowing why and what you’re doing. It’ll probably cause more harm than good.
We need to right the wrongs. Yes we do. But let’s make sure we don’t let our uniforms DICTATE what we do and how we do it.
Let LOVE define us.
Let LOVE helps us see the human beneath the uniform.
Let LOVE determine our course of action.