There’s an old expression that says, until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, you won’t understand their journey.
May 25, 2021, marked the anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
And in the year since his murder, the world has turned on its axis.
Analysis and commentary are rife with the changes that have occurred, in communities, in laws, in global corporations, in world politics, in collective understandings of life and of death.
Some measurable, some unfathomable.
But perhaps the most profound transformation that we can contemplate is that society, people, individuals, and tribes worldwide, are re-examining what it takes to be each other. What the lives of “others” are truly like.
To explore and practice empathy on a whole other level.
The harbinger of true change.
People ceremoniously lay for nine minutes and 29 seconds on the ground, seeking to honor George Floyd . . . his life and inhumane killing.
Seeking somehow to understand how this could happen.
Walk a mile in my shoes, voices resounding . . . to hear the voices of people BIPOC, who have spoken, but most often not been heard. We hold these truths to be self-evident.
And yet, it was a 17-year-old girl’s video, capturing the slaying of George Floyd, that finally broke through the walls of silence and of disbelief.
Walk a mile in my shoes, understand my journey now.
May, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, and beautiful celebrations of culture and heritage, merge with the chanting of voices speaking out against anti-Asian hate. A prejudice, not new, when one understands its history in this country, yet too often relegated to quiet memory and disbelief. WWII Japanese internment, the most determinable, and even this brutality not often known or talked about. We hold these truths to be self-evident.
And yet, it took the devastating mass murders in Atlanta and cruel attacks on Asians across this country to recognize the threat and racism rising. Asian American leaders and communal voices in solidarity, rising against hate, standing in the power of strength, resilience and in this month of May, celebration that will not be stopped. Highlighted in the rock group the Linda Lindas, young Asian girls, rocking out to sing their truths. And to invite all to join in.
Walk In my shoes, so that you can know me. And it is the chance to embark upon allyship at a whole other level.
To be an ally is to unite oneself with another to promote a common interest. People who are allies are not only helpers, but also have a common interest with those they desire to help. In an alliance, both parties stand to benefit from the bond or connection they share.
If we truly embrace diversity, with a recognition that we are each different and unique and embrace our common humanity . . . then the opportunity to be an “ally” is there for each of us, regardless of our journey and our truths.
In my shoes, and even the expression itself may be presumptuous, because it presumes one has shoes, or that one wants them.
Nonetheless, the premise is sound, as is the opportunity.
The invitation -
Consider how your life has changed in this last year, how your views, actions and heart have altered. Reflect upon what you intend for this next year to be like, setting your heart and intention, specifically on this vision.
What are your goals as an ally? And what do you want from the world as your “ally” on this journey.
Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand their journey. Each step practicing empathy.
I will walk with you. And we can walk together.
S. Jai Simpson-Joseph, Esq. is the Founder and Graceful Warrior of Wings UpRising, A Social Good Practice. Wings provides DEI UpRising workshops, transformation management, and DEI Specialist-in-Residence services, to learn more, visit wingsuprising.com.