Confusion in the midst of change
Written by Sarah Perlmeter — June 14, 2020
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “uncomfortable.” I used to think that part of my commitment to my work came from having been in uncomfortable situations. I felt uncomfortable when I stepped off of the train in Brownsville (a neighborhood designed to criminalize black and brown bodies), I was uncomfortable learning that my core value of helping people was skewed, I was uncomfortable as a white person in all black spaces, coming to terms with a reality that the world I knew and was proud of, was in fact oppressive and racist. The truth though, is that I’ve been far too comfortable. My comfort, and the safety of my communities, provided me with no incentive to look outside of it.
I now can say that ultimately all of this was confusion. It was change. It was growth. It was difference. Which I admit to being something I’ve always gravitated towards with a level of comfort. I’ve invested in the actions that come with these feelings, and in fact I’ve never been more grateful for anything. It is a privilege to learn from and be in spaces with people that are different. It is amazing to build relationships with people who are committed to learning and growing alongside of me. MOST significantly these relationships have developed out of nothing but trust, oppenness, honesty, humility, curiosity and above all else, humanity.
If we are really honest with ourselves about what our values our, and what truths we want to see this world hold, then we do need to invest in confusion. We’ll need to grieve — there will be loss, and there will be change. The uncomfortable part is knowing why we have so much work to do to get there.
The guides for what to do, where to begin, and why? are there. They’ve been there — waiting for us to hold our empathy across differences. We work towards justice because humanity deserves equity. Forge ahead because you want to grow, not because someone else wants you to. Don’t focus on making yourself uncomfortable, focus on translating fear into action, and guilt into unity. It’s about listening to what people want for themselves and trusting the pieces that we have in common. Its about peoplehood, life, joy, liberation & self-determination.