June 12, 2020

Take a Walk with Me and #changeourneighborhoods: 100% Responsibility

I realized that just seeing more people of color walking down these streets would be noticeable and salutary.
Life Lessons
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Change starts with asking yourself a simple, 15-word question: What is something simple I can do to have a positive impact on my block?
Jahmal Cole

My sense of grief and despair have been with me as I’m sure they’ve been with you.

I have read the transformative book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and that has mainly informed what I have not done. I have not denied my own racism. I have not made excuses for myself and others. I have not found ways that I’m different than a normal racist white person for some narrow reasons. I have not put a lot of pressure on the people of color in my life to tell me what to do. I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend this podcast about the book from Rebecca Carroll.

I have learned that the ways I choose to make change are small and direct. Or that is my story. Not enough women-led companies getting funding? Start a fund that invests in companies with at least one woman in leadership. Boom. We used the hashtag #changetheratio with the thought that if we did just one thing, it would alter the ratio for the better.

There are amazing people who see things at the system level and have the patience and talents to make sustained, large-scale change. I don’t think I’m one of those people.

So I’ve been holding back, writing some small checks, reposting words of people of color in lieu of sharing my own. I woke up this morning with an idea of a form of action that seems doable for me and potentially meaningful, particularly if others did it too (I’ve already told you that’s not my big objective, but if it happened, wonderful).

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Yesterday I saw a Black woman taking a walk by my house in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder itself is not diverse. My neighborhood is really, really not diverse. I waved and said an enthusiastic hello, but she was doing her own thing and didn’t hear me or didn’t feel like engaging. But I realized that just seeing more people of color walking down these streets would be noticeable and salutary.

I would like to take more walks (socially distanced for now) with people of color. I would be happy to do that in my neighborhood; I would be happy to come to your neighborhood. I am an executive coach and an investor, and if a person wants, we can talk about anything in either the business or coaching realm. Please know that’s an offer, not a suggestion that anyone would have more to gain from me on a walk than I would have to gain from them. If a person wants, we can talk about anything at all. If a person wants, I can simply listen. If a person wants, we can walk in silence.

Either way, I’d love to take some walks with some new people. Let’s #changeourneighborhoods.

You can reach me on Twitter @tellsue or on the contact form here.

I look forward to hearing from and walking with you.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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