Closing the empathy gap to enact social change

We continue to talk about race, racism, our whites privilege, and anti-racism daily in our home.

The empathy gap seems to be a primary barrier to widespread acceptance that institutionalized white racism exists.

What is the empathy gap? Until white people hear stories from People of Color about how they are policed differently, assessed for credit differently, sold housing differently, treated differently—and empathize with People of Color—change is slower.

So let us listen to stories. People of Color have been telling these stories for years, centuries. Let us listen to these stories and learn to empathize, to care. We may appreciate black culture. Now, we can go further and appreciate black individuals.

This is happening. Please, let us not bury our heads. Younger Child posts about these topics on social media each day and has started to lose followers. It is a challenge to reach deniers of racism if they can just unfollow the topic.

If we are able turn off this discussion, we have privilege by definition. Please, let us not turn away.

If we need to give ourself compassion, let us do so. And then we can tune back in to the bravery that is being a Person of Color amidst institutional racism that has been present forever. We can face these facts together so that parents one day do not have to have “the talk” with their black children about police and escalation and death.

We think our role is to keep the topic up front. Some white people are fragile about racism and privilege. Again, please give ourselves and others compassion, and then determine how to continue this work.

Obtain a therapist who is skilled in working with race and life changes if it will help.

We are seeking empathetic allies—buddies, like Ashley of Mentalhealthathome, who also want to change the experience of marginalized, mistreated humans—and then listen (read), listen (read), listen (read). This process will take time. We need to build skills.

We think tearing down monuments to the confederacy, anti-abolitionists, and slavery proponents is a small first step. It is okay to start there. To do something. Get some momentum.

But real change is about changing people’s insides. That can’t be legislated. Self-reflection is voluntary, courageous, essential for lasting social change.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources changed the name of a lake celebrating a racist in 2018. Two year’s later, white police in its largest city killed George Floyd.

Confederate monuments are tumbling, so other symbols are quickly substituted. There is no shortage of symbols. Chasing the Hydra is only one approach.

For many people who deny institutional racism, changing monuments is easy. Self-reflection is not required.

Please practice empathy. Please try to care about the experiences of all people in your community, near and far: neighborhood, school district, court, county, state/province, nation, world. Especially, the marginalized.

The world is mobilizing for authentic change. Not just political correctness. It will no longer be enough to only use proper language about diversity while still avoiding engaging in meaningful ways with people who look different from you on the outside.

It is time to attempt engagement in business, worship, pastimes, mentorships, friendships with people whom we see as different. Barriers melt away quickly. Please recognize we may not be trusted right away or always or ever by people we have knowingly or unknowingly marginalized forever.

We again may need self-compassion. It is time to make ourselves vulnerable, accept some natural hesitation, and keep trying this healing work.

We can listen/read, examine ourselves, change ourselves, suggest to our allies ways to help, engage. This is about empathy, caring, even love. Social change is just getting started.

We cannot do it alone. We have many therapists and many mental illnesses. We need allies. You don’t have to wait for us. We are slow. Please point out our errors and missteps.

Please practice empathy. The rest will be natural from there because we will be leading with love.

9 thoughts on “Closing the empathy gap to enact social change

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I haven’t heard the term empathy gap before, but it describes my experience of waking up to the harsh reality of BIPOC experiences. Once I started listening and watching and reading, I started to understand the depth of my privilege and ignore. It is an ongoing learning and unlearning process.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We appreciate that you are open and vulnerable. That meets our needs to have meaningful dialogue about how we can work together to change oppression. “Ongoing” is a key word. We hope to find the energy to not give up💕❤️


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