Getting Preachy

What are we doing with all the stuff, all the info, all the challenge and motivation coming from the protests and the news and the discussions about how we can tackle racism? Or all the changes we’ve been through and will be going through as a result of COVID-19?

It’s easy to get a bit preachy isn’t it? Maybe that’s not a bad thing, because for sure we could all do better. But I think most of us know that, and probably know what we could be better at, even if we’re not sure how to make that change.

Some people get paid to tell us what we should or could do. Some people are trained to tell us, are trained and experienced and qualified in the subject, and how to teach it. Some people have devoted their life to a cause and know it’s history thoroughly and can recommend what action is likely to be effective.

The rest of us still like to have our own opinion, it’s just that we also quickly become convinced that we’re right, usually based on a very small amount of hearsay. So convinced that we quickly start telling other people what to do and to believe the same as us. Or we lose motivation if we’re not directly impacted, or ever likely to be.

Maybe I’ve done it, rapidly developed an opinion that I assume to be correct based on very limited knowledge. Probably. It’s easier, isn’t it, telling someone else to do something rather than actually taking action and being a better human. Actually being better is so much harder than talking about it.

Some people have just carried on posting online whatever they had before, maybe with pause for a black square and a few thoughts. I think that’s all fine and good. Not everyone should be a vocal activist on every topic, and we still need art and humor and music that isn’t entirely about race, and who knows what they are doing outside of social media anyway. Some people are sharing information of how to make a difference, how to register to vote or join in the census or contact your senator. That’s great too. I just think we have to allow each other a little space to make mistakes, to use the wrong word occasionally or need to revise our opinions as we learn more about what’s gone before and what’s still happening now.

Yes, we need to confront racism in others, but I know I need to examine myself too. It’s easy to say ‘I’m not racist’ and to judge someone else for doing or saying something that I would never do. But real progress would be if I acted more in positive support of black artists, and examined my own assumptions and areas of ignorance and stereotypes that might cause me to act out of prejudice.


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

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