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#BlackLivesMatter – How to Be an Accomplice

You’ve likely heard it said, as have I, that it’s not enough to proclaim to be anti-racist, you have to DO stuff that supports such a proclamation. Otherwise, it’s rather meaningless to make any proclamation at all. You know, that whole actions speak louder than words thing.

You have to speak up. You have to take a stand. You have to be an ally. You have to help bring about change that is needed even when it’s easier to sit back, keep quiet and let others do the hard work.

You might want to read, I Will Be an Ally for my Friends with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Always.

Having empathy is necessary and a good place to start, but no, it’s not enough.

You have to be an accomplice.

But how?

#BlackLivesMatter How to be an accomplice #advocacy #socialchange #injustice #disparity #healthcare #breastcancer

Advocacy is often an uncomfortable role. You put yourself out there. You write stuff. You say stuff. You take risks. You do stuff you perhaps wouldn’t normally do. You support others who are doing the same and even more uncomfortable stuff than you are doing.

You know you’ll say and do the wrong things at times, but you keep at it. You keep trying because the reason you’re advocating is so much bigger than you.

Being an advocate in Pink Ribbon Fantasy Land was hard at first. It took me a while to find my footing, to find my voice. Pushing back on the rah-rah sort of advocacy that’d been going on for decades made me uncomfortable at first. It no longer does. Well, not as much or as often anyway.

I am comfortable in my own advocacy skin, so to speak.

There is so much noise in the world right now. Call me cynical, but I wonder how many white people are protesting because they are more about show than the substance. They want to say, look at me. I am one of the good ones.

Then again, who am I to judge anyone’s motives? Shouldn’t we all want to be “one of the good ones”?

Of course.

Calling myself an advocate in the Black Lives Matter movement makes me uncomfortable. Even writing and publishing this post made me uncomfortable. Why I’m not entirely sure. I’m changing lanes or something. But I’m really not. Breast cancer, healthcare, disparity, politics and yes, even racism, they are all intertwined.

Still, I don’t feel “qualified” because I’m not black. And yet I am qualified. So are you. We all are because we’re all human beings.

This blog is my platform. I want to do more. Exactly what, I’m not even sure. But I am a good listener. I’m an educator at heart, and I can start by educating myself. I’m embarrassed to admit I knew little about Juneteenth and the massacre that took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. I don’t recall learning about either in history classes.

Not talking about segments of our history because those parts make us uncomfortable is not okay.

Ten years ago, I didn’t know much of anything about advocating in Breast Cancer Land and no, I’m not comparing the two realms of advocacy; I’m comparing the learning part. My learning part anyway.

I’m hoping to learn as I go along in this advocacy realm too.

I’m pretty sure it’s gonna take all of us to bring about the change that’s been coming but at the same time, not coming for generations now.

Why does meaningful, much-needed change often take so long to happen anyway?

Well, that is a topic for another day.

One thing I know for certain is that disparity and yes, racism exists in Cancer Land too. Black women (and men) are diagnosed at later stages more often than white women. More black women die from breast cancer than white women. Black women make up only 6% of breast cancer related clinical trials. Access to healthcare is not equal. A lot of things are not equal.

There is a lot of disparity, inequity or whatever you want to call it across the board.

I was born and grew up in the Midwest. I still live there. I was raised in a small town that didn’t have any black people at all living there. There were Hispanics and yes, I remember disparaging comments made about them.

I remember the Civil Rights Movement. I vaguely remember George Wallace being on TV saying Lord knows what. I remember listening to Walter Cronkite talk about desegregation, busing, and various other stuff that was hard to make sense of as a child. I never understood why white kids didn’t want black kids in their schools. There was a lot I did not understand. There still is.

I never had to worry about a lot of stuff because I happened to be born white. White privilege is real, and there’s no need to get defensive about that fact. There is so much I do not understand because my experience is not the same as anyone’s of course, but it is definitely not the same as that of a person of color.

But I am here. I am listening. Sure, there is a lot I cannot do. But there is a lot I can do.

First of all, I care. I can empathize. I can listen. I can learn. I can speak out when the need arises. I can defend. I can support those doing the heavy lifting. I can be uncomfortable. I can make mistakes. I can do better. I can encourage others to do better too. After all, even the small things you and I do make a difference.

Below are a few basic, easy things you can do if you want to be an accomplice:

1. Listen. No, I mean really listen. Care enough to listen. Listen enough to care. Then, figure out what YOU can DO.

2. Visit and explore the #BlackLivesMatter website.

3. Read, download and share the Accomplice Guide put out by my friends at For the Breast of Us.

4. Educate yourself. Reflect upon your values and examine your past actions. Make changes if needed. Start discussions with others. Lots of resources are listed here.

5. Help amplify voices of those doing the heavy lifting any way you can. For example: follow individuals and organizations supporting change to end systemic racism on social media. Share their stuff. March. Donate.

6. When you witness racism, call it out. Silence is not an option.

7. Vote for candidates who best support your values even if they’re not perfect because guess what, there are no perfect candidates.

8. Voting is not the end of your responsibility. Followup with your elected officials. Call them. Email them. Write to them. Do it when they fall short, mess up AND when they do things right.

9. Read and take the Inclusion Pledge.

I will keep adding things to this list. Share your ideas with a comment below. Thank you in advance.

I can be an ally.

I can be, no, I will be an accomplice too.

What about you?

If you like this post, why not share it?

Above featured Minneapolis photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

To get more articles like this one delivered weekly to your inbox, Click Here! #KeepingItReal #SupportYouCanUse

How do YOU intend to be an accomplice?

Do you have an example of disparity and/or racism you’ve experienced that you’d like to share about?

What suggestions do you have to add to the above list?

video via BlackLivesMatter.com

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Erica Lonesome

Thursday 13th of August 2020

This is my first time reading this website. It was recommended to me by a survivor friend now that my mom has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. I gotta say, I'm impressed. It takes a lot of courage to make this post, at this time, knowing the backlash you'll get. As Black woman, I just want to say THANK YOU. Sending loving and healing vibes. :)

Nancy

Saturday 15th of August 2020

Erica, Yeah, there was some backlash, but so be it. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment. I hope you're mom is doing alright.

Rosalind Bell

Monday 29th of June 2020

Dear Nancy, It was nearly three years ago that I was sitting in a chemo unit with a needle in arm as the nurse quizzed me about the usual: Have you been out of the country? Have you fallen? We all know the drill. I was seated with my research papers before me, spread out on the little lap table. The nurse, looked down at my papers and remarked at how hard it must be to read the documents. "That must be some really old papers." Before I could answer she swooped up one of the letters and said, "Wow! I can hardly read this. It's in long hand!" "It's from 1869," I told her in annoyance and shock, "it's my Great uncle's papers from the Civil War. I reached up and took the document from her hand, "My uncle was a soldier in that war." "I love that history! My husband and I visited the Avenue of the Monuments in Richmond, and it was so beautiful. It's stunning." "My uncle was a Union soldier. He was 17 years old when he ran away from the plantation..." "I don't know why they are trying to destroy our history," she interrupted. "I don't think anyone is trying to destroy your history!" "Oh yes, they are! Everywhere you look they're trying to destroy our history!" "Those monuments can be housed in a museum." "A museum?! A museum?! Are you kidding me?! That's our history and it does not belong in a museum!" "Yes, they do!" "No, they don't!" "Who ever heard of the loser of anything getting the glory?! The Confederacy lost the war! There should not be any statues honoring them. They fought against the United States! That's a crime!" "Those poor boys fought and died for their beliefs and they should be honored! And nobody wants to honor them! It's just crazy what's going on in our country right now! We can't even say the "N" word." "The "N" word?! The "N" word?! What are you even talking about? I thought we were talking about Confederate monuments!" "Well, it's all one big, ball of wax!" "No! It's not one big ball of wax! How did you make that leap?! What are on earth are you trying to say?! I am not exactly sure how we ended the conversation. I do know that three years later her voice, her sentiments and her face that had turned beet red by then, have stayed with me and cause my head to ache in regret about the things I wished I'd said to her. I walked out of that appointment with limbs and a heart heavier than when I'd entered. I made it through the fog that was my thoughts and sat in my car to write what I remembered. I was shaking. Why hadn't I just given her a piece of my mind? Why did I not call for security?! Why didn't any of the other nurses come to my aid. I believe there was only one other in the suite that day, but I knew she heard us. She had to. The anti-nurse was loud and grew louder with each utterance of defense. If you ask me why I didn't just report her to her superior, I will know that you are not black. I am. I am discernably black and I knew better. I still had a couple months more of chemo and then radiation to go. Co-workers protect one another. There would be no repercussion except for me. I write this because I'd like those of you who do not know to know that there is not one category of life in this country that is not touched by race. Not one. From housing, to banking, to shopping, to health care to education, to the environment, to birding, to music...you name it, race is there and it's legacy is a negative for black people. I applaud you, Nancy, for stepping up in your own life which is this forum. I am 66 years old and helped to integrate a Catholic All girls school in my small, Louisiana town in the late 60s. I marvel at far we have come. I sit in disgust and disbelief at far this country still has to go. ***Apologies for writing a second time.

Nancy

Tuesday 30th of June 2020

Rosalind, Thank you for sharing that chemo experience with such detail. Really eye-opening. You're so right about racism impacting every aspect of life for black people. I don't know how to fix things, but I am listening. I applaud YOU for speaking your truth. Second comments are always welcome. :)

Lindsay

Friday 26th of June 2020

Seems a few need to be reminded this blog is called "Nancy's Point."

Nancy

Saturday 27th of June 2020

Lindsay, I guess so. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Tarzangela

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Dear Nancy, Thank you once again for writing yet another provacative post and I fully support your view. Empathy, a real good place to start. That is why I stop by here now and then. Thank you Nancy. We all desire empathy. But we all don't know how to provide it. I was starting to see more and more of it due to this darn pandemic. I thought for sure that as a world of people, all kinds of people, we might actually evolve into more empathetic beings and were trying to watch out for each other. It is a helluva a way to learn this lesson, but sometimes, sadly, that is what it takes. But in times like these, we need leadership that provides empathy, unity and support for all, with a clear and honest plan of action for all the people, so we can all work together to survive. That still hasn't happened. Yet, look at all the different color people who took to the streets. Wearing their masks and carrying their children and signs. Every person feeling like a leader, feeling like they had some kind of control. Feeling like they belonged to the human race, no matter what color they were no matter where they came from no matter how much money they made no matter who they voted for no matter what sex they were... they were there to say something important, with a clear and honest call for action, with one very loud voice, they had had enough..... It was just too bad that certain individuals took advantage of the events and caused destruction. It is now too bad that certain individuals are looking for more trouble by sowing lies and conspiracy theories that continue to cause damage and spread untrue fearmongering with disinformation on social media. It is kind of funny how you can get 10 people to read the same thing, watch the same thing or look at the same website and get so many very different opinions or views. Actually, it can also be kinda scary.... But, hopefully....the tide is turning and real change has begun. I will do my best to be a part of that change.

Nancy

Thursday 25th of June 2020

Tarzangela, Your comment is so insightful. Empathy is certainly at the heart of what's needed, as is the case with any cause a person advocates for. I love how you described the different people who came (and still come) together with an honest call for action. As is always the case, there will be a some individuals who take advantage of events and situations. There are always ulterior motives at play. We can't let ourselves be distracted with all that. I think the tide is turning regarding these social injustice issues and as you said, real change has begun. Just hope it doesn't take too long. We all have to do our best to be part of positive change. Thank you for reading and sharing your valuable insights. Hope you're well.

Donna Funkhouser

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Tanzangela, well said!

Linda

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

I liked your post and I thoroughly understand being an Ally. I have to admit that the use of the word Accomplice threw me off for a minute. I worked at a small college in the office of Multicultural Programs and am well aware of Black Lives Matters, etc. Here's my thing: I personally cannott handle ALL of it. And if that makes me people upset with me, so be it. I choose to advocate for breast cancer and mental illness. I am passionate about those two things and try to be aware and educated about other issues. But there are so many issues that my unfortunately small brain and my mental health cannot handle it all. And frankly, working with social justice issues did not do my health any good. So I chose. IF someone wants to do it all, I applaud them. Listening and advocating in any of the social justice arenas is a wonderful thing to do. But, please, be passionate about what it is you want to advocate for (or be an accomplice for.

Nancy

Thursday 25th of June 2020

Linda, I'm glad you liked it. I borrowed the word "accomplice' from my friends at For the Breast of Us as I love the title of their guide. Your primary job as a person with stage 4 bc is to take care of yourself, and you know what your personal boundaries are as far as how much you can do. I know you care about social issues too and try to stay informed. I don't think anyone can do it all. I sure can't. But the things I put in my list are really pretty easy and can make a difference. It's wonderful you are also an advocate for mental health. Thank you for reading and taking time to share some thoughts.