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Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, is a safe place to have the uncomfortable conversations about race that many white people have never been able to have.

uncomfortableconvos.com

As you know, I have started a journey to learn more in an effort to be more active in promoting and creating racial equality and justice.

One thing I came across this week was Emmanuel Acho’s new video series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”.

If you want to get right to it and skip my comments, you can find the videos in several spots: under @themanacho on Instagram, at Acho’s YouTube channel, and on the website uncomfortableconvos.com .

At this point there are two videos. The intent is for them to be conversations between Acho and others, but the first video features Acho by himself, explaining the purpose of the series. The second one is a conversation between Acho and Matthew McConaughey.

Both are great. Several different topics are discussed and viewpoints are explained. They are easily accessible and understandable. It all feels very…approachable. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but that’s how it felt.

This might sound corny, but they also make me feel hope. They make me feel like it’s OK that I’m not perfect and that I don’t have to understand everything right now, I just need to keep at it.

They are pretty short, too, which I think is great because we have time to think about and digest the topics discussed – time to internalize the concepts before moving to the next one. The first one is 9.5 minutes long and the second one is 13 minutes. So, there you go!

Hmmm…I think the way I’m describing them makes them sound more like university lectures or something. That’s not how they are. They are very casual, and comfortable. Matthew McConaughey had notes in his video and that felt a bit weird, but seemed to fit better as the video progressed. And, honestly, I appreciated the info so much that I didn’t really care that he had notes.

One of the things that they talked about, and that I think will be a great tool in conversations I will have about this, is a way to explain how the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter.

The analogy was that right now, as we all know, there is a huge emphasis on COVID-19. We all know about it and we all need to take precautions to get the spread under control and keep each other safe. The current focus on COVID-19 doesn’t mean that there aren’t other diseases and illnesses that are also important. It just means that, right now, this one is a crisis and particular focus on it is required.

It’s the same with Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. It just means there is a crisis that we all need to step up for and be part of the resolution.

I have struggled to find a way to explain that concept and this really helped me. It’s not that I didn’t believe the idea of it before. I just struggled to find a way to explain it that is probably easy for most people to understand.

Anyhoooooo…even if that point isn’t an aha moment for you, there will surely be other things that strike you in these or subsequent videos, so I definitely recommend that you check them out!


When we learn better, we do better.


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I can breathe – Action against racism 1

On my Instagram account, I follow a few friends, but mostly I’m on there to find recipes and ideas for the various crafty/hobby things I’m into. It’s a pretty happy and peaceful and inspiring place to be and I’m pretty protective of that.

In the past few days, several of the people I follow – food bloggers, hand lettering professionals, card makers, etc. – have been posting things that have disrupted this social media utopia that I have worked hard to build.

Rather than the regular recipes or lettering tips that have me drooling or rushing for my brush pens, they have posted their positions on racism, in response to what is going on currently in the US.

I knew that speaking up and speaking out were the right things to do. I had even also thought about posting something. But did I really want to destroy my happy place? Did I want to open myself up to the controversy that would likely come from such a post?

While doing my standard mental prevarication, I noticed that some of the accounts specifically stated that they were voicing their positions because of the large followings they had and they felt a responsibility to not stay silent about it.

Sadly, my next thought was, “Well, I only have 120 or so followers so it doesn’t matter if I voice my position.” Underlying that was the unvoiced (even in my head) thought that I was off the hook. Momentary relief!

Thankfully it didn’t fully quiet my conscience and when one of my favourite quotes popped up today, it called me on the carpet.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand by and do nothing.

Edmund Burke

That was a punch to my integrity gut. That quote has been a favourite of mine for a long time. But how important is it to me really if I am willing to be one of those “good” men who stand by and do or say nothing?

And yet, there I was, looking for reasons not to speak up. Reasons to let “someone else” do something.

I am ashamed to say it, but there it is. And that’s OK. We have to acknowledge the uncomfortable realities within ourselves in order to really learn, change and move forward.

So here I am.

It doesn’t matter if I have 12 followers, 120 followers, or 120 million followers.

If I really, truly believe that quote, then I have to speak, or accept that I tacitly approve the behaviour that I would like to think that I oppose.

And, really, I’m not doing this for anyone else’s benefit but my own. I need to say something because I need to know that I can have my actions match what I say are my values.

This, then, is my first step – publicly acknowledging that systemic racism does still exist and is very much alive. I live with white privilege and because of that I don’t have to worry about a policeman’s knee on my throat. I can breathe.

I need to figure out now what I can do to change this reality – at least in my own little corner of the world.

I don’t know what all my next steps will be. One thing for sure will be writing more posts about this as I move along in my learning process.

I’ll likely screw up along the way, but I need to not let fear of doing or saying something wrong paralyze me into inaction.

If I come across any resources that I think might be helpful, I’ll be sure to share them.

Till then…Be well and be safe.


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