Note from Katy: I'm continuing to amplify black voices, especially black businesses, since economic equality is also racial inequality, as I mentioned in last week's post. This week, I'd like to share with you Malika Williams, a Stanford (!!!) grad, entertainment industry veteran and the founder of The Center for Women's Voice, where she teaches women how to communicate effectively and authentically without apologizing or overanalyzing. This blog is re-published here with her permission. Her original post is HERE.
The world is on fire friend! Been thinking about you so much and hoping you are tending to your soul and being poured into amidst all the unrest. I love you very much.
…sending you a ton of love. I know this time has been horrible and triggering. I’m thinking of you and here if you need anything.
Hey Malika—just wanted to check in on you and your family—sending you love and if you need anything let me know (I can paint pretty pictures and send them!) xo
Hi Malika – I know it’s late so you don’t have to respond right now but I wanted to reach out. How are you? Do you need anything? I’m thinking of you.
Hey Malika, checking in to see how you’re doing.
Over the last seven days I have received an outpouring of check-ins.
Even I, check-in advocate that I am, felt overwhelmed and a bit unsettled by the attention. If I did not respond to your check-in, thank you for understanding, and know that I appreciate you for reaching out.
The irony of the last week is that I was not intending to meditate on the horrific death of George Floyd, or the complexities of race in America, or the tragedy of the prison industrial complex. My initial response to the incident was to not read the news any further, avoid all images and video footage, and stay away from social media.
I know the slippery slope of those outlets and how a quest for information can quickly lead to a dark, dark psychic space. Unjust killings, police brutality, economic disenfranchisement, institutional racism—these are things I have grown up processing. They show up in my family history, I have had my own personal experiences, I’ve read books, I’ve heard many sermons.
Occasionally there are moments or events that bring everything to the surface all at once in a dramatic way (watching the movie Get Out had that effect on me), and I have to connect to my grounding again. But for me, fortunately, this week was not one of those times.
For many others though, this past week has been an awakening, a reawakening, a catalyst, a deluge, a reckoning. Even within my own nuclear family, the range of responses is vast.
I am moved by the number of people who are wanting to “do something” about racism in America. Inevitably, the news cycle will change, but I hope this sentiment lasts. If you experienced something powerful, and you don’t want it to fade away, consider these suggestions.
1: Mind Your Language
The refrain I’ve seen in email blasts, personal updates and Instagram feeds is something to the effect of, “this is difficult work that we need to do now” or “I am committed to the painful process of looking at myself.”
Of course, there are inherent challenges in facing hard truths and dismantling systems of oppression, but if we are always talking about how hard it is, we’re just not going to do it. Or you’ll force yourself to do it for a while, then you’ll get tired, and tired of suffering, and then you’ll just stop. When we describe things we haven’t done yet as painful, difficult, insurmountable, we are seeding the idea in our brains that what we are about to do is not sustainable.
Are there other words we can use for this moment? Harrowing? Exhilarating? Inspired? Here are some alternative examples of mental framing designed for longevity:
“I am committed to the enlightening process of understanding myself and my role in the current cultural context.”
“This is important and promising work that we want to do now and we are ready.”
“Expanding my worldview is uncomfortable, but it is so freakin’ satisfying knowing that my capacity is growing.”
2: Pace Yourself
This is a marathon, not a sprint. 400-plus years of oppression will not be undone quickly. We have never been where we are before, and no one knows the precise formula to get to equality (or better yet, liberation). We have to keep trying things out and seeing what works. Embrace the experimental nature of progress.
Whatever you’re committed to, and however you are thinking about your future, consider what will have the longest impact. If you’re choosing to donate to an anti-racism organization, think about automating a monthly or annual gift instead of a one time contribution. Small actions are still actions. You don’t have to read all of the books or watch all of the documentaries in the next two weeks. Start where you are and just keep moving in a direction.
3: Work Together
Going back to point #1—taking on a challenge solo is more difficult than taking on a challenge together with other people who want to create change. Accountability is important—join a group or start a group to remind you of your goals and encourage you along the way. If groups aren’t your thing, find one other person who will be “in it” with you to process what comes up and vice versa.
Thank you for your support, thank you for reading my reflections, and know that in the midst of the craziness—I am doing well.
I would love to hear how you’re doing too.
With love and respect,
Malika Williams is a national speaker and trainer; she holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from the University of Southern California. In 2017, Malika founded The Center for Women's Voice, where she teaches women how to communicate effectively and authentically without apologizing or overanalyzing. Drawing from her own experiences as an actor in the entertainment industry and as a professional development facilitator for the military, Malika brings a unique perspective that is both approachable and practical for any woman who wants to be heard.
Since launching The Center for Women's Voice, Malika has led hundreds of coaching sessions with women across a spectrum of career stages and fields - from the entertainment industry, to Silicon Valley and academia. Her most recent group engagement was a half day course for the 2020 cohort of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. What Malika's client's and workshop attendees have in common is the desire to expand their influence further, be heard, and "show up" more authentically across their different work contexts.