Okay, friends. I think I’ve calmed down (at least a little) from my earlier post this week. While I hope that some of you checked out some of the links, there was also a part of me that hoped you didn’t need to go through my list of anti-racism resources because you’ve been doing your own research. But I digress! In other parts of the reading, research and learning I’ve done this week, I’ve also found that there are pockets of people who aren’t sure “how they can help” – or maybe don’t think they can help at all. I want to address those people because I think anyone can help support this movement. And I know that because of my experience with a different cause – mental health*.
*Please note. There are MANY differences between these causes. In fact, there are a few CLEAR differences in particular. If you need details, hit me up in the comments! But sometimes understanding can come from finding common ground.
There is common ground between a lot of movements and causes. The one that I want to focus on today is that aspect of how can I help? To be even more specific, how can I help if I am not part of that group? Though it’s in a (much, much, much) different way, that’s a question I get when I talk to people about mental health. It’s one of the reasons mental health is still stigmatized. The truth is, there are lot of people who don’t think they’re allowed to be part of the mental health discussion because it’s not part of their life (if you’re connecting the dots here, that’s the same point certain white people are making about Black Lives Matter). But they are allowed to be involved in the mental health movement. In fact, we need them. So, here’s how I convince people that mental health is for everyone.
Every year, I take part in the Out of the Darkness Walk with my local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It’s a cause I’m passionate about because of my own struggles with suicidal thoughts. And every year, I’ve been lucky to have family with me as I walk. Why do they walk with me? Because they support me. Because they care about me. And they want to understand. And while they do so much more to support me as a person, it’s that one simple act they’ve taken that shows me while struggling with mental health might not be part of their every-day life, they acknowledge that it’s part of mine, and part of the lives of millions of people.
Okay, now let’s go back to connecting the dots. I’m a white person who supports the Black Lives Matter movement. So even though I’m not black, even though I don’t know what it’s like to live in this country as a black person, supporting the movement acknowledges the issues that people are fighting for. To be clear, there is SO much more to it than that (which would make this post incredibly long), but I hope that you can see how this movement involves everyone.
One more brief point before I sign off. Just like the mental health movement and others like it, there are many, many ways to help this current movement. It might make you feel like you have to be part of every single one, which can lead to inaction. So I’m using this post that Viola Davis shared (who reposted this from Octavia Spencer, who reposted this from B. Scott, who reposted this from Cali Rockowitz on Instagram – social media is wild, y’all) to respond to anyone who feels like they aren’t doing the ‘right’ thing or aren’t doing ‘enough.’ I hope you read it and understand it. As long as you keep your foot on the gas, you’re trying to get somewhere. And that’s what we need.