As a white woman from Iceland, I will never understand what it means to be black. I've lived in Europe my whole life and haven't been exposed to racism the same way as someone living in the United States. But I choose to speak up nonetheless.
In this episode, I want to talk about speaking up versus staying silent when it comes to black lives matter, and why this concerns you, too.
What you will get out of this episode:
- What is Black Lives Matter (1:56)
- My message to those who say it isn’t their problem (5:52)
- My message to those who don’t want to mix business with politics (6:38)
- My message to those who want to speak up but are scared to say the wrong thing (9:47)
Black Lives Matter: Why You Should Speak Up
The level of systematic racism that exists in the United States is incomprehensible. Every citizen should be able to trust the government and the police, but in the United States, black people can trust neither.
The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that there is one. The United States has a serious problem with racism, but other countries aren’t innocent either. The question is, do you speak up, or do you stay silent?
Yesterday I spoke to my group coaching and mastermind clients and some said they didn’t want to mix business with politics. Some said that this is not their problem, and others said that it was affecting them deeply.
To those who say that this isn’t their problem
I want you to imagine that this is World War II, and you knew that Jews are being killed in Germany. You live in the US and whatever you say or won’t say wouldn’t do any harm to you. Would you speak up or would you stay silent, knowing that Jews are being killed?
Listening to black people, you’re either a racist or anti-racist. Which one are you?
To those who say they don’t want to mix business and politics
It helps me to think of racism in the context of sexism. I get furious when I think about the discrimination women had to endure over centuries and are still experiencing. I decided at the age of 16 to make gender equality my mission, and therefore equality is one of my company values.
Your business isn’t separate from you. Your values are your company values. When COVID-19 started, we saw some business owners step up and lead while others were quiet and pretended that it was business as usual.
Ask yourself this question: Do you respect someone who takes the lead, or someone who takes the backseat? Who are you going to buy from when all of this is over? The business owner who gave you extra resources and helped during the virus, or the entrepreneur who pretended everything is the same as before, and ignored your fears and worries?
By becoming a business owner, you’ve decided to lead, whether you like it or not. By building an online business you’ve decided to be visible. People see what you do, and what you don’t do. Saying that you do everything behind the scenes is not visible for those who need to see it. It means you’re not publicly taking a stand.
In an earlier episode, I interviewed Jenny Fenig, a coach with strong values like myself. This is her quote:
As coaches, we have the responsibility to use the platforms we have been given. We have a responsibility to speak about things that are wrong with this world. If you aren’t willing to use your platform to take a stand, you don’t deserve a platform.
To those who want to speak up but are scared to say the wrong thing
You have a voice for a reason. Use it. Saying something is better than nothing. People will criticize you anyway so rather be criticized for speaking your truth. Be humble and willing to listen and learn. A simple recipe goes like this:
I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I’m with you. And I will do better.
What’s happening right now has been a wake up call for so many, including myself. I realised that I can do more, and will do more, I can speak up, I can educate myself, I can listen and learn. And I can influence change. All of us can do something and something is better than nothing. Wherever you are in the world, whatever you do, just do your part. You can be a part of the problem or the solution. It’s your choice.
I’m choosing to speak up, because silence is violence.
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