I am usually a silent supporter of diversity. Liking other thought leaders' posts and sharing their resources are what I've been comfortable with. After all, I am NOT an expert on racism or activism.
Although I love the mix of races, ethnicities, and cultures of our tea community, team, and customers, I had remained silent for a long time. I was afraid of saying the "wrong thing."
Then, I heard Layla F. Saad, the author of Me and White Supremacy say, "Your desire to be seen good prevents you from doing good." So last week, I decided to distance myself from reality to get in touch with reality. I took the week to create a space for introspection for myself and my team.
After actively listening and learning this past week, I realized that I should speak up more despite the discomfort and inadequacies. The first step was sharing my story of introspection during our weekly Instagram LIVE. Instead of using #muted for a week, I wanted to show up.
During the session, I shared how Jocelyn Kopac, a black business strategist, answered the question: “If you are not black, how do I understand what our black friends are feeling?”
Her answer was "You can be sympathetic but not empathetic because you won't go through the same experience." And she offered a few examples we can use to try to understand.
- As a woman, you may have had this experience: the feeling of unsafeness when you feel someone is following you at night. The need to have a man beside us to feel safe to walk the street at night.
- The feeling of helplessness or powerlessness to change the situation. The feeling of not having the people who have our backs to create a better situation.
- Any trauma that changed how you feel for the rest of your life.
And imagine how you would feel if this were to happen 10x more often to you because of your skin color.
I personally went through this exercise, and I could not hold back the tears. And as I shared my personal story with the public audience during our session, it was very difficult and emotional.
I am a firm believer that the change needs to come within ourselves, from our heart. Over time, speaking up should become easier for all of us.
Moving forward, our team and I are working on implementing changes within Mansa Tea to be more proactive in closing the disparity gap. As we continue to grow, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us using our form or a DM on Instagram.