How You Can Use Your Unique Skills to End Racism

Radio silence from all of Pachyderm's business social... blog posts... newsletters the past month. The truth is, I haven't had the words or even wanted them for a few reasons.

With the new Civil Rights Movement gaining incredible momentum, I didn't want my offerings/posts clogging up your newsfeeds and emails. Suddenly promoting anything seems insensitive. Covid-19 has brought serious challenges to my business and everything I've worked so hard to build.

The past few months I have felt deeply disconnected from people. Suddenly the cries for justice from Black people over modern day lynchings jar my heart and soul. I've been doing social justice work in the community for 7 years now. Girls Rock Charlotte has taught me how to Amplify Voices... Covid-19 threw me for a loop though and I ended up helping in a way I did not see coming.

Background for those who don't know me.

I grew up poor, southern baptist, am white and recently came out as queer. There weren't a lot of Black people in my community of Fayetteville, WV (there still aren't). I was friends with the few that are. Our community consistently pushed Black kids to assimilate and whitewash themselves. My white friends and I were aware of the rednecks that were blatantly racist,

but we were unaware of our own racism.

At what point in our minds does the image of the white robber in black and white stripes tip-toeing with a bag of money transform into the dark skinned man in a hoodie with his hands in his pockets?

In 2008 I voted for Bush because my dad told me to. But when Obama won I was happy. I naively thought racism was over. The following year I didn't vote because I said I didn't care about politics. Later I realized that as a member of a marginalized community (LGBTQ+) and as a woman, I damn well better care about politics. Because old, greedy white guys are writing laws and making decisions about our bodies, how we have families, and how easy it is for mentally unstable people to have guns... etc.

I grew up in a house where I was continually told that white men are superior to everyone else. And no, that was not verbatim. It was the little micro-aggressions that stacked over time.

When watching an action movie with a woman kicking ass I'd hear laughter at how unrealistic it was.

And off handed remarks about how Black women are "loud" and comments that degraded women's bodies.

The low-income apartments I regularly hung out at (which were mostly Black communities) were "unsafe" and my family did not like me going there.

I couldn't date a Black guy (or a woman) without getting kicked out. Regardless of the fact that me and my brother both were best friends with Black people who that were always welcome in our home.

When I started doing work with girls around using music to amplify voices all of this stuff from my childhood. These micro-aggressions... they started to reveal themselves to me. I started to unpack my shit and see that politics did matter. There will be no change for equality until things are addressed on a social, economic and systematic level.

Before Girls Rock, I didn't have the language to understand. You won't either until you start talking about racism with people that you trust. People that won't judge you for ignorance. But you have to be in the space of learning and knowing that you will mess up. It's ok. Keep talking. Own your mistakes. Because when it comes down to it all of us are racist. We can't help it. We are born into a society that was built on racism. But we CAN change it and it starts within.

Woke people, you need to realize that people can change. I bet you did. If we are talking to folks and just tell them they are wrong, nothing is going to change. Yes, call people out. But we need to have intimate conversations with folks who think differently than us if we are ever going to make a lasting impact, otherwise we will become more and more divided. Please remember that change in a person is possible, but it is slow going. The best thing you can do is be present for the person and instead of asserting your opinion, ask questions about why they think the way they do. I bet they'll ask you for your opinion if you leave space to earn trust.

PS: Don't forget there are bots on social media that say extremely stupid stuff just to antagonize us, start fights and sway votes.

Illustration by Lo'vonia Parks

Using your unique skills to fight racism

When Covid-19 first hit and my business went 100% online I found myself with more time. I was building websites as a side hustle sporadically prior to the pandemic, suddenly it became my main source of income. A friend needed a site and Covid took out all of her revenue. So I started a program. For every paid site website I sell, I donate a site to a woman of color artist/entrepreneur.

I learned how to do web design when I built this site. The work of running a business, marketing, web-design, graphics... are all skills that I acquired over time.

My main focus was to build up my music school but we have to evolve and adapt.

Since February I've built multiple websites for Black women and I plan on continuing to do that work.

What is the skill set that you have? Can you use it to help amplify Black voices or offer their communities care in some way? Organizations and individuals need your help. They are tired. Reach out to Black-owned businesses and instead of asking how you can help tell them exactly what you are good at. Think of what you would put on a resume. Offer them free services and then FOLLOW THROUGH. Set times, dates, expectations of what you will do and do it, friends. Do the thing you are already good at and help someone else. <3

"I love this feeling of working together. It makes working for liberation not as heavy." - Reia Chapman

I'd like to introduce you to 4 incredible women.

Lo'vonia Parks - Artist

Lo’Vonia Parks is an illustrator, caricaturist and mixed media artist in Charlotte, NC. Her work draws on a thought-provoking mix of history and pop culture to tell innovative and slyly humorous visual stories. Get a caricature made or throw her a donation in support. Lo'Vonia has done incredible illustrations for local publications like Queen City Nerve.

Reia Chapman MSW, LCSW - Social Justice Emotional Response Collective