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  • Writer's pictureKaliya Johnson

Ripple Effect

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”

-Mother Teresa

Since George Floyd’s horrific and tragic death I have had many conversations. Conversations with family, friends, co workers, and former coaches and players. Some of these conversations I openly welcomed, others I was hesitant to have. Why is it my responsibility as the black friend to educate them? Why does that burden have to fall on me?  But it wasn’t until I had a talk with my mom and she asked me, “What if you replaced the word “burden” with “opportunity”? And while people are reaching out to you, why do you want to choose who you do and don’t educate by sharing your experiences?”

I had to swallow my pride and look at myself. Why would I choose to have open conversations with some over others? My anger and emotions had gotten the best of me. By asking me those two questions, my Mom opened me up to realize that I have  opportunities to educate and share with those that may not be having conversations anywhere else. Just like I get the opportunity to educate and share experiences around my mental health, what made this different?

So I decided that no matter how I felt about the person or group I was speaking to that I would provide information when it was requested. It was my chance to effect anyone and everyone I came in contact with. Now more than ever, it is important to have these conversations.

Soon after that talk with my mom, I decided to get a group of my closest friends together and have very candid conversations about what is happening and what has happened for the black community. We’ve had conversations about my experiences, their experiences, and the things they didn’t understand. This has been an opportunity for my closest friends, that I have never talked to about my race and my experience as a black woman, to ask anything! And I mean anything! It was important to me that if I was going to have these weekly discussions, then no question was off limit. I was committed  to sharing everything, even the things that were uncomfortable to talk about.

The group grew from an open chat with friends to something that I look forward to every week. Never have I been so encouraged to share who I am as a black woman than I am now. I thank the black community, as well as my whites friends, for their willingness to listen; for making me feel heard to the point where I don’t worry about any  repercussions for showing my blackness. For as long as I can remember I suppressed my black identity to only be finally learning more and more about myself as a black woman living in America at the age of 25.

You never know what a conversation can do. It has helped my friends have difficult conversations with their family and friends, as we have taken deep looks into biases, white  privilege, and the inequities in the black community. Every Thursday our conversation makes another ripple in the water. While I may not be able to the change the world, I will make damn sure that I change MY world.

If you’re feeling hesitant to have conversations with a friend because you think “what good will it do?”, remember that everything has a ripple effect. You have a conversation with a friend, they have a conversation with their friend, and so on. You may not feel like you’re creating change, but you are. Trust me, I have seen first hand how conversations have changed not only my immediate circle for the better, but how they are effecting others in their circle of influence. Cast that stone and create the first ripple and watch as you change your world for the better.

Together we can change the world.

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