One of the things about being a perfectionist is that it's very difficult to do anything you're not naturally good at. None of us are naturally good at everything so this is a terribly impractical trait. But perfectionists are only comfortable when they feel like they know what the hell they're doing. Every once in awhile, we stumble upon something worth making an ass of ourselves over. For me, this is advocacy. I've written in the past about my basic comfort level with advocating for gay rights, given my evangelical background. But #blacklivesmatter has been pushing a national conversation on police violence, specifically against people of color, ever since Michael Brown was shot 2 years ago. And this white girl wants to get involved.
The problem is, I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I bought a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt. I've attended a White Allies meeting. I've joined a #blacklivesmatter moms group to determine how we raise our children to understand human dignity among all peoples. I've bought The New Jim Crow (though I'm terrified to read it) and Between the World and Me (just started this one). I've posted many articles on Facebook and moderated conversations advocating for people of color. I've followed a great writer who posts great information multiple times a day (Shawn King of the NY Daily News). As I list this out, it feels like not enough.
And yet part of this clumsy advocacy process is that it's awkward. I've said stupid stuff trying to advocate for people of color. I've gotten in the way. I've silenced them. I've tried to explain their experiences to them. And here's the grace part - now I know that. And as the beautiful Maya Angelou once said, "When you know better, do better." And that is what I'm doing. I'm learning. I'm stumbling around like a rickety toddler facing my privilege, fearing the truth and trying to learn. It's easy to say that I shouldn't speak until I know the right words. That I shouldn't support a movement when my skin places me as the perpetrator of the oppression. That I need to read more, listen more, learn more. Those things are all true. And yet, there is blood running down our streets. RIGHT NOW. I can't wait to be an expert. And neither can you.