#SWAAYthenarrative

It's Time To Recognize the Moment We Are All Occupying

4 Min Read
Culture

We are in the midst of an unprecedented moment for our country. What we see playing out in front of us isn't just about police brutality; it's about a trifecta of police brutality, murder, and the weaponization of skin color. We see these events nearly everyday, and they underscore, in a very visual way, how Black people do not have equality in this country — not by the government, society, and in some cases, the general public. These events highlight how they often continue to be thought of as less than whites.

Black people have been told for most of our lives that if we learn to assimilate, follow the rules, earn the degrees, and become successful, we will be protected from being seen as second-class citizens. Now, we see that it isn't true. It's not that the contract with America has been broken; we now realize that it never existed. That's the bad news. The good news is that I continually see protesters — white, Black, Latino, Asian — and other races protesting together. To me, this means people are aware and, even more importantly, they care.

This isn't just a social movement unfolding on our streets and on our screens.

So then the question becomes what can we do as leaders, and colleagues to understand this moment, make a difference, and be on the right side of history?

Below are some ideas, both personal and more business-oriented, for you to consider to help you make sure you are on the right path.

1. If you are an entrepreneur and you haven't already put out a message of compassion and concern to your employees and important stakeholders, I implore you to do so. It's not too late. This isn't just a social movement unfolding on our streets and on our screens. This is a very human movement, and I believe that people are nervous and scared regardless of their ethnicity or gender. People need to hear from their leadership that what is happening now matters to them.

This isn't an all or nothing situation. Change will be incremental, but it will still be change.

2. Reach out to all of your co-workers and friends and especially your Black friends who may be feeling especially sad or hurt. However, if your Black colleagues were not your friends before, this isn't the time to pretend they are your friends now as a way to assuage any guilt you might be feeling. Black people are hurting, but most won't show it. Just because someone seems okay does not mean they are. Black people have learned how to leave their "Blackness" at home and how to navigate within a white society. If you have mixed-race friends, recognize that they may be in a particularly trying time. Crossing two ethnicities — one the oppressor and the other the oppressed — is at minimum difficult and confusing.

3. Don't ask what you can do. Just do something that counts. Raise issues in the workplace, and review your company's practices for areas where there may be implicit bias. From a personal perspective, when you see an injustice, no matter how small, report it. Be an advocate for anti-racism. Being non-racist isn't enough.

4. Keep the conversation alive. Don't let this be a "one and done" so that we forget as quickly as we became angry. There is a real risk that once the headlines start to fade, our country finds an acceptable way to address COVID-19, and we return to what many refer to as our "new normal," interest in this important issue will fade until something happens to start a new uprising. As a nation and as a society, we can't go back. We know too much now to pretend that what's happening to a large percentage of our population isn't real. Just like we can't un-see the George Floyd situations of the world, we also can't unfeel what is happening before us.

5. Educate yourself on what is really happening around you. Don't ask your Black friends to explain it to you. A simple Google search can tell you everything you need to know about the history of being Black in America. Many streaming services are playing movies about the Black Experience.

Don't ask what you can do. Just do something that counts.

6. Learn how to be an ally. Allyship is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to bring about change. While there are many ways to be an ally, think about where you shop or eat — are you supporting Black-owned businesses? Are you avoiding businesses that seem to be racist or hostile to Black people? Not everyone is an activist and that's okay, but know that Black people are not going to solve this problem on our own. It will take all of us.

7. It's okay to make a mistake or say the wrong thing as long as you are coming from a point of concern and compassion. This isn't an all or nothing situation. Change will be incremental, but it will still be change.

As a nation and as a society, we can't go back.

There is no doubt that addressing what is happening in our country is difficult at work and also at home. It's time for all of us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The conversations that shake us up are often the ones in which we learn the most. The key is to talk and talk often. Right now, silence equals compliance. We all have an opportunity in our own small way to right a wrong that has been plaguing our country for more than 400 years. When we look back on this moment in our history, I want all of us, regardless of color or gender to be able to say, "In 2020, we began to change the world for the better."

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.