Answering the Question, 'What Can I Do?'

June 2, 2020 Steve Pemberton

2-minute read

unity

We are a lost nation, morally adrift, our covenants between us severed. God must surely weep for a nation blessed beyond that which any nation should rightfully deserve, and who continually squanders that blessing because it refuses to live up to its own ideals.

Many of my friends who are not African American have written to me asking “What can I do?” Asking that question alone is important because it suggests you know what continues to happen to African American people is wrong. 

So, what can you do?

  • If you want to understand, read Frederick Douglass' “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” There was no one more eloquent in pointing out the brutal inconsistencies of America. And yet he still had hope: “May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her [America’s] destiny?”
  • If you want to connect, remember a time when you were unseen, unheard, overlooked, bullied, marginalized, or simply had to live with your guard up. Now imagine living like that every single day of your life, worrying for yourself and your children. Much of what you need to connect is already within your own experience.
  • If you want to teach, start with your children. Tell them that what happened to George Floyd and countless other African Americans is wrong and they should never accept that in this country. Make sure they understand that America can never claim greatness for as long as this barbarism endures.
  • If you want to learn, have a dialogue. Try to use your mouth and ears in the proportion they were given to you. Those conversations will teach you that we can never accept second-class citizenship, especially in a nation that we helped build.
  • If you want to challenge, start with the assumptions you have and the narratives you've been sold and told. One of those narratives that begs for immediate disruption: that we have never sought to erase another culture and people.
  • If you want to be informed, spend some time understanding a culture other than your own. Spend some time with African American people. Come to our gatherings and our churches (where you are always welcome) and you will see that we are a strong, forgiving, gifted, welcoming, resilient, imperfect, and hopeful people. You can hear it in our prayers, our love, our laughter, our song, and our protest. Listen long enough and you will see in our story a chapter of your own.
  • If you want to question, start with this one: Is this the America you want?


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About the Author

Steve Pemberton

Steve Pemberton is the CHRO of Workhuman.

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