In August of 2017, I got in the car and started driving in the direction of where we drove months prior the night of our family’s car accident in March. I had applied to be a model for the Cultivate What Matters shoot (you know, a less than five feet kid-sized model LOL) and my big brave thing that year was going to be making this trip across North Carolina alone to be a part of this shoot. I had no idea that day that I would meet someone who would had such an impact on my life, and who would have me driving away joyful and confident just by getting to sit down and connect with her during the photoshoot experience. I am an introvert, although online I can be a little loud (LOLLLL) – so social gatherings of ANY sort of physically and emotionally exhausting for me BUT meeting Shunta Grant and being team yellow with her at the Cultivate What Matters shoot is an experience I’ll never forget and I will FOREVER be grateful for!
If you want to discover and implement REAL CHANGE when it comes to routines, habits, follow-through on business plans and ideas – she is the person you go to. Shunta is the owner of an incredible bow company named after her daughter called Because of Zoe and she also created an online course called Peace, Pace, Progress to show women how to actually get stuff done and achieve their goals..and wait, there’s more 🙂 Shunta recently released the BEST TODAY guide, a tool that teaches you how to be proactive and intentional with your TIME!
I have just loved and admired Shunta for years. Whenever I’m mentoring or teaching business, I work with a lot of women who are perpetual people pleasers and need a lot of permission to move forward, to set boundaries, etc.. and I work with a lot of people who spin their wheels and never really follow through or get things off the ground out of fear and avoidance. Shunta is SO brilliant at articulating how to take care of BOTH of these common issues through loving and respecting yourself (she runs daily, exercises, she prioritizes HERSELF so she can serve others well!) and she is excellent on building a routine that moves her business forward and following through on it daily!!! I am perpetually inspired by her and SO thankful to know her and soak in all of the knowledge she shares weekly! Follow her on Instagram HERE.
This blog post is about what I learned from a recent podcast she recorded, what you can do about racism. By nature, I am a crier (the crying Instagram lady, I know, I know, haha) but I forced myself to not break down and to fight the urge to be overly emotional and just listen with deep intent and understanding. It was not my place to cry, it was my place to be educated and listen to a friend who I adore explain what life has been like for her and why it’s not okay and NEVER has been when it comes to racism. Shunta is the friend we all need to set us straight, with love, but with no fluff.. and get to the points that matter. This recent podcast I’m sharing about today was insightful, clear and spoken from the heart. I know you’ll love it as much as I did.
The ENTIRE episode (CLICK HERE) from start to finish (it’s less than an hour) is golden, but I’ve highlighted some points Shunta made below in hopes that even if you can’t listen to it (which truly, you REALLY should) – you’ll take away much needed information and perspective from her.
The question she gets the most:
What do I do, what can I do, how do I help?
Shunta starts with two things she does NOT want us to do first. The first thing, is nothing.
“That is not the thing to do, to be silent. Your silence is NOT the answer. In fact, I, Shunta Grant, speaking for myself, consider your silence sleeping with the enemy. I see your silence as a bigger problem. I see you who are silent. I make note of it. I may not say anything to you about it but 1000% I know, I notice, I see it.. and you are a bigger part of the problem than the white man with the KKK hat on. You, who stay silent out of fear, or not wanting to “controversy” among your friends or family of for whatever reason, you who remain silent… you are a bigger threat to me and my safety and my children’s safety than the one person on the horse with the cape on his face. I want you to feel that. Because that old man, he’s going to die and move on… we’re CLEAR on where he stands. But your silence may creates 10 to 100 to 1000 more of that klansman because you are most likely a woman… I’m guessing you’re a woman listening to me which means you are a person of influence. Women are people of influence starting with your home. Your silence is saying something to your son. And his friends. And your friends. And their children. And your church community and your small group and your close-knit friends and that is allowing racism to continue to spread creating more of it. So stop being silent. That’s number one.”
Number two, the other thing not to do: Don’t start the conversation about racism with people of color.
“Don’t look to be comforted by people of color. And here’s what I mean by being comforted by people of color. You think racism is bad and you think it’s wrong, and when something happens you go to black people saying ‘this is just so awful, oh man I feel so awful, I hate this!’ Well guess what? Me too! But more than you because I’m the one who literally walking around in skin that is considered a weapon. So, don’t come to be comforted. It’s kind of like, have you ever gone to a funeral and it’s like the person who is the closest to the person who died, like their spouse.. their parent.. their child.. the person you probably be expecting to be grieving the most, right? Someone comes up to them and just starts [sobbing] you know? And it’s almost like expecting the person who’s grieving the hardest and the most to comfort YOU. It’s just weird. So maybe you’ve never thought of it that way. So.. don’t start this conversation about race and racism with people of color. This happens so many times but we aren’t the people to discuss how bad racism is with because we already know. WE agree. We know more than you. I want you to use alllll that energy and all that oxygen to talk to white people about that.”
So what TO do?
Shunta reminds us that we can’t eradicate racism forever and for good.. so she takes that burden from us. She said globally that’s not possible and wants us to let go of the fact that we can end it altogether. But what can we do?
We can help combat the roots and the seeds of racism in our homes, our friend circles, our immediate spheres of influence (think small groups, church friends, sport teams, etc) – THIS is where we start.
1) Start with your children (don’t let MLK be the only black person your kids have heard of!) Show them black people in the books they read, artwork, the people they see you interact with. This isn’t a one-time conversation.. it becomes a part of your LIFE. You don’t team them manners, kindness and safety in one day.. it’s ROUTINE. A part of your family fabric.
Side note from Shunta – your SPOUSE should be on board with this! And I have to agree. I couldn’t have married Mike if we didn’t share the same understanding about human rights and being anti-racist. If your spouse contributes racist remarks, jokes or discrimination in the home – you need to set boundaries and not allow this and sit down and have a pretty serious talk.
2) Your friends. Friends who are not willing to have these conversations and want to laugh it off and brush it off.. that’s telling. You get to decide if you want to stay friends with those who don’t share values with you on this. And her bird and goat reference.. you HAVE to listen to the podcast because it’s SO true and good. She also says “If I have to explain to someone why racism is not good… why are you in my life?”
3) Look at your spheres of influence. This is another place to examine and be CLEAR on where you stand from church to small groups to college friends, etc. Be open and clear. Cutting off racist jokes. Bringing up race in America as the next book or bible study topic. Getting educated and CLEAR together.
Shunta mentions after this suggestion that this may make you feel stressed and sweaty and uncomfortable… but that is nothing compared to how a black mom feels when her son walks out the door. Your armpits, your heart rate will never know what that’s like. So… you DO THIS WORK. You sit in this discomfort.
There is no comfortable or easy. Progress toward making things better never is.
4) Educate yourself. There are books written, documentaries, there are people who educate daily on racism in American. Be SURE to read books written by black people. In a book club? Introduce a book quarterly dedicated to learn about racism and how to be an anti-racist.
“You doing this work might keep someone else’s son alive. That’s how important the work you’re doing is. It might keep someone’s daughter alive. Not having her life or his life ripped from him or her, solely because of the color of their skin. It’s important to teach our children to brush their teeth and how to take a bath and how to fold laundry, how to say please and thank you, and yes m’am and yes sir if you’re in the South but if you never taught them any of those things and you chose just to focus on this, the world would be better.”
Shunta, you are a gem of a human and a wealth of wisdom, inspiration and knowledge and I am SO lucky to know you!!! I am so thankful for team yellow, forever!! 🙂
XOXO, Amanda Hedgepeth