Over the past few months I’ve been on the road speaking and teaching around the country. This weekend I was in California – speaking in Oakland and then up to Sacramento – two places where they will be voting for new District Attorneys this summer. Both cities have a long history of police brutality and corruption and will have a chance to change the game by voting new people into office that actually stand for the people.
This morning, I want to teach a lesson I’ve been teaching across the country – except I have about 6 minutes to teach you what I normally take about 2 hours to teach, ok? We’ll post these notes on Black America Web later, so don’t worry about taking notes – just listen. I’m writing a book on this as well.
Making change in this country is hard. Everything about how the United States is built and ordered and shaped is working against us. It’s why we fight so hard, with so much heart, and so much determination, and see so little change. It’s why we can be so right, so woke, and so outraged, and still see so little change.
It took me nearly four years to learn what I’m about to tell you.
As a people, we’ve become masters of awareness. We’re experts at this. We know how to make the world fully and completely aware of our pain and our problems. And this is not a mistake. Most of our tweets, our Facebook and Instagram posts, our petitions, and even most of our marches and protests – are about building awareness – not just of our pain, but of our frustration and determination to see things change.
But what I’ve come to learn is that this country is fully and completely willing to be aware of our pain, aware of our problems, and do nothing about it.
Awareness of a problem, even if we are hyper aware of it, does not solve it.
If so, we would not be on pace for 2018 to be the deadliest year ever measured for police brutality in the history of this nation. If awareness solved problems, the problem of police brutality would be getting better, the number of people getting killed would be getting smaller, because the whole world is now aware of this problem.
Awareness of a problem may set the tone for change, but it rarely brings change all by itself.
This morning I want to tell you 4 things we need to make change.
The first thing we need is energized people. We do this well. Energy comes in many forms – outrage, pain, frustration, it can be determination, it can be spiritual. We don’t struggle with being energized, but the problem is we often get awareness of a problem, then get energized people, and we think change is about to happen. I wish that was the case, but that’s not how change happens in this country.
To make change, you need people, and they need to be energized, and the second thing you need is people, and they need to be organized. Being energized is not enough. We must organized for change – and I’m afraid for most of the problems we have right now – we’re not truly organized enough to fix them. I wish I could fully unpack what I think it means to be organized, but think of it like this – how many organizations are you connected with that actually know who you are and what you’re good at? We must increase the quality of our organization if we’re going to actually make change happen in this country.
We’re often aware of our problems, and we’re often energized to change the problems, sometimes we’re even a little organized to fix the problems, but it’s the final two points that we have to develop better.
We have to have a robust, sophisticated, nuanced plan for change. That plan has to match the magnitude of the problem we’re facing. Too often, if we have any plan at all, it is completely overwhelmed by the problems we’re facing. Knowing the problem isn’t a plan. We must not only have clear goals, but clear plans for how to implement the goals, and clear plans on how to protect and defend the things we actually achieve from time to time. And plans are only as good as the ability of the masses of people to repeat them back to you. We have to do better here.
And I’ll close with this final point – we need energized people, organized people, sophisticated plans for change, and lastly, we need more money. We’re not funding our plans. We’re not funding our solutions. We’re not funding the change we want to see in the world. And most often when I see the people who are energized, organized, and have brilliant plans, they struggle most because they are underfunded.
I’ve gotta run! Let’s keep fighting for change – but let’s add some layers to the struggle! Take care, y’all.
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