Not happy with the racism and violence in Charlottesville?
About the worst thing you can do is protest.
I know, something bad happens and you feel like you need to do something: At the least, to say you don’t approve of what happened.
So, you show up at a protest rally. You’re with lots of people who feel the same way. It makes everyone feel good: You’re speaking up and doing something.
Except you’re not solving the problem. In some ways, you’re making it worse.
You’re making it worse because when you get back from the protest, you probably won’t do anything else to fix the problem. All you’ve done is make yourself feel a little better by telling people what a wonderful person you are because you protested. OK, you’ve also helped show the authorities that a lot of people feel the same way you do and maybe they oughta do something about it.
Feeling better without changing anything? Selfish. Protesting but not making plans to do anything else? Chirping. Neither moves the needle on the problem.
Want to really make things better? Here’s how:
- What do you want? Seriously: Think about a realistic goal you want to achieve. Do you want to eliminate racism or maybe just eliminate racist behavior? If that’s not a realistic goal, what is? What does good look like? This is hard.
- Then find like-minded people who share your belief in rwhat good looks like. Start a meetup group, Facebook page, Pinterest page. Communicate your goal and solicit support.
- Once you’ve got people who share your goal, together find out what is the root cause of the bad outcome, the anti-goal, that is the reality. If the goal is to eliminate racist behavior, why do people act racist? There could be many reasons. Because they’ve been brought up that way? If so, why were they brought up that way? Because their parents were racist? Why? This is also hard. But at least you’re now doing something – hopefully with lots of people who care as much as you do.
- Once you’ve drilled down to root cause (and there could be more than one), what’s the plan? How will you get from the reality of today to what good looks like? There are usually many paths. What are they? What are the pros and cons of each? What resources are required for each plan, and how realistic is each plan?
- Once you have several plans, which is the best? Can more than one be pursued simultaneously?
- Once you have selected one or more plans, execute: Put the plan(s) into action.
- Measure what you’re doing. Is it working? Go back to step 1: Are we still excited about the same goal? Are the root causes still the same? Are our plan(s) still good? Make changes as appropriate.
You might be thinking, “Who has the time to do all that?” And now you know why we have racism and violence.