Compass provides grounding but little direction

May 16, 2022

I thought about the Courageous Conversations compass on my way to work today. I hate that it most often comes to mind when topics of race come crashing into my daily life, in my social media feed, on the front page of the news but I’m also grateful that it offers a touchpoint in these moments, which are all too frequent.

Am I grieving?
Are my questions analytical or values-based?
What action can I take?

The answer is somewhere in every quadrant at any given time, and that’s when I need to find the ways to contain what could become a swirl. Maybe it’s 10 minutes on The Buffalo News, learning the names of grocery shoppers who paid with their lives for completing a Saturday morning chore. Maybe it’s NPR to understand more about white replacement and, in the process, to learn that 1 in 3 Americans believe in some form of it, according to an AP study released last month.

Everywhere I read questions about who is responsible: The conservative media? The political right? Lack of social media and livestream control? Inadequate mental health support? COVID-19 isolation?

Or does it all run back to slavery and a deeply rooted belief that somehow skin color is the single determinant of our humanity?

This is where my feelings place on the Compass might add a few expletives to the writing as my anger overtakes my ability to craft feeling into words, and I ground myself in names:

Aaron. Ruth. Pearl. Celestine. Roberta. Heyward. Margus. Andre. Geraldine. Katherine.

As a nation, I already know that we will move from shock and anger to grief and memorial — much faster than the families of the 10 dead will — but then what? Will this be the time that things are different? Will this be a moment for true healing? Will this be the moment for meaningful change?

Or will this become just one more shooting, one more white man, one more fringe incident until the next one and the next and the next?

Our politicians need to decide if we will continue to hide hate crimes in Amendment protections. Our cable media needs to decide whether ratings are worth creating a petri dish of lies. Our social channels need to decide how much oversight private businesses have when their existence has a public consequence. We need to decide.

On the Courageous Conversations compass, that’s a values place, a doing place, a call to action. And even as I write it, I know I’m not ready to go there yet. I see it, but right now the feelings place has me rooted to the news, longing to understand, hoping for better.

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