On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by two white men while he was going for a jog. On March 13th, EMT Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by the police in her home. On May 25th, George Floyd was slowly suffocated to death by a white police officer.
Right now it is absolutely crucial that white people do the work to dismantle the systems of white supremacy. We have to commit to taking long-term action. So what does that look like? Where do we even start?
Like many people right now, I’m in active learning mode.
Team Forleo and I are about to embark on our annual two-week company closure and, as we prepare for this break, we’ve been compiling and sharing anti-racism books, videos, and podcasts with each other on Slack.
At first, I wanted to share that list with you on the blog, but here’s the thing…
Black educators have already done this work. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s not my voice that matters. It’s theirs. Instead of publishing yet another list, I’d like to tell you what I’m personally reading right now, and give you a few already-compiled resource guides created by Black people.
This reading list by Arielle Grey is a great place to start. She writes, “[A]n important part of learning about racism is realizing that no reading list can do the work for you. Learning and excommunicating your internalized racism is a lifelong process that requires intense self-study and determination.”
I’m personally reading How To Be An Antiracistby Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and highly recommend it. It’s an eye-opening, powerful examination of racism in America.
If you’d like to dive deeper, Tasha K. Ryals compiled this shareable anti-racism guide. It includes suggested pre-reading, memoirs, essays, and resources on immigration, indigenous studies, Latinx studies, and more.
It has articles, definitions, terms to understand, books to read, Black educators and leaders to follow, and other ways you can take action.
Yes, it’s a lot. I understand that these lists may feel overwhelming at first, especially if you’re just getting started. But learning and taking action is non-negotiable. I encourage you to click, pick, and go. Remember, clarity comes from engagement, not thought.
If you’re feeling frozen — like you want to help but you’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing — here are five additional resources to check out.
How Can We Win This 6-minute video featuring writer Kimberly Jones is powerful, heartbreaking, and vitally important. If you’re brand new to the work of anti-racism, please watch this.
8:46 In this thought-provoking 20-minute standup, Dave Chapelle speaks candidly about the murder of George Floyd, celebrity responsibility, and being Black in America.
Stream to Donate Want to donate but don’t have a dollar to spare? This 24-hour hip-hop livestream by Revive Music donates all their ad revenue to Black Lives Matter.
Less Caption. More Action. Entrepreneur and B-School alum, Gabrielle Thomas, is leading an initiative to help empower Black entrepreneurs. Through her website, you can offer a free service, mentorship, education, event ticket, or opportunity on your podcast, newsletter, blog, or social media platform. Gabrielle will match you with a Black business owner who needs your skillset. And if you’re a Black business owner who’d like to be matched, click here.
Freedom Festival Magogodi Makhene and her partners created an arts-filled virtual festival that’s happening July 12-19. They say, “We want to activate everyday citizens to purposeful behavior and inspired action. Our work is rooted in love and fueled by the arts.” It features art, community, workshops, and music. Until then, the founders are also offering a free 30-Day Anti-Racist Challenge on Instagram.
There can be no significant change in the world unless we first have the courage to change ourselves. In order to change ourselves, we must first believe we can.
The importance of this moment cannot be understated.
We need all hands and hearts on deck. This is a turning point, in an infinite number of ways. It’s hard to express how profoundly I’ve been changed, and how grateful I am to be present at this time. It’s long, long overdue.
Last week, I spent some time trying to write an article both celebrating Juneteenth, and inviting all of us to examine the root of our own racism.
I struggled. I didn’t know exactly what to say, didn’t have any good solutions to offer, didn’t feel I had a grasp of the situation we’re in. I realized that’s because I don’t know — and it took me awhile to realize that maybe that not knowing is OK.
Many of us want a simple solution to the systemic racism we’ve allowed to happen — but there isn’t one. When we don’t have a simple solution, our first reaction is to get discouraged and frustrated and give up.
But we can’t just give up. We have to let ourselves stay in the place of not knowing. We have to stay with the questions, and explore with curiosity.
We have to listen. Listen to those who are most impacted, listen to their stories, listen to their anger and exhaustion and pain. Listen as if we don’t know anything, because we really don’t.
Examining the Roots
In the article I tried to write last week, I wanted to look at the root of our racism. We all have this racism in us, inherited from parents and teachers and textbooks and society, and unexamined and allowed to continue.
I wanted to write about how we view people as Other. There’s me, and there’s Other. Not the same, not connected, not unified as one. Other.
When I let myself not know, I leave room for people who know so much more than I do.
I don’t really know where my own racism comes from, or how to start breaking it up. I know I want to, and I’m committed to owning it and working with it. Making myself whole again.
Remaining in the Not Knowing
Most of us really don’t like to not know. We seek out certainty, looking for books and articles and systems and tools to give us the certainty we want. That’s normal, and there’s nothing wrong with this instinct to get solid ground under our shaky feet.
But there’s so much more possibility when we let ourselves stay in the not knowing.
Let ourselves wonder how things came to be, without needing a definite answer.
Let ourselves wonder how to work with all of this, without needing a definitely plan or path.
Let ourselves be open to the stories of other people, to discovering our own story, without needing to know all of that already.
Let ourselves stay in the uncertainty that is fundamental to this moment, without needing to run.
This is where I find myself, in the not knowing. It’s a place at the center of pain and outrage, and I am trying to let myself be more open to moving closer to that center, rather than moving away.
love letter to beloved black bodies + heart instructions for those who choose to receive them.
let the folks that can’t know how this lands in and on our bodies do the work of reclaiming their humanity until they realize this pain lays violence on our bodies, but ignored and unchecked, whiteness consumes their spirit, their wholeness, and integrity as human beings. . until white folks feel their guts wrench them out of pervasive confusion and into their bodies to show up beyond the obsession with personal safety and getting it right that is whiteness personified, they are the bulwark to white supremacy that got this man and every black brown indigenous devalued body killed. . white folks, you might not know what to “do” about it, but you can start by feeling which is where all wisdom of what to do when you don’t know what to do comes from. . if you don’t have access to that, now you have a place to start your work from. get comfortable with that discomfort. . in the meantime, give a shit. feel helpless outrage. take a risk. listen. learn. get it wrong. offend someone. . make beloved all black bodies. ⠀⠀ —Rev. angel Kyodo williams
We sit silently. My friend stares deeply into her empty glass, occasionally shuffling the ice around with her straw. “Wow,” she says. I sit and wait for her to say something else. What started out as a festive night somehow became a long, deep discussion about love, what it consists of, and how rare it actually is.
Finally, I say, “Wow, what?”
“I’m just thinking that I’ve never experienced that.”
“Well, maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet,” I say — the totally cliche thing that every friend says in this situation.
“No,” she says. “I mean, I’ve never experienced that with anyone. My parents, my family, even most of my friends.” She looks up at me, her eyes glassy and wet, “Maybe I don’t know what love is.”
The Conditional Coolness Economy
When you’re a teenager, being “cool” is traded like a currency. You accumulate as much coolness as possible and then you find other kids with a lot of coolness and you bargain to share that coolness to make each other even cooler.
And if at any point you come across a kid with far less coolness than you, you tell that nerd to fuck off and stop being such a loser and dragging your coolness down because the other cool kids might see you, like, actually talking to each other.
Your coolness balance determines the level of demand for a relationship with you. If you suck at sports and sports are cool, then there will be less demand for your friendship. If you’re awesome at playing guitar and guitars are cool, then your coolness stock will rise appropriately and people will like you again. In this way, high school is a constant arms race to cultivate as much coolness as possible.
Most of the bullshit and stupid mind games teenagers play are a result of this coolness economy. They fuck with each other’s heads and brag about shit they didn’t do and think they love people they actually hate and think they hate people they actually love because it makes them appear cooler than they are and it gets them more Snapchat followers and a blowjob from their prom date.
These high-school-level relationships are conditional by nature. They are relationships of I’ll-do-this-for-you-if-you-do-this-for-me. They’re relationships where the same person who is your best friend one year because you both like the same DJ is your worst enemy a year later because they made fun of you in biology class. These relationships are fickle. And shallow. And highly dramatic. And pretty much the entire reason why nobody misses high school or wants to go back.
Because at some point, you grow out of this tit-for-tat approach to life. You start just enjoying people for who they are, not because they play football well or use the same brand of toilet paper as you.
Getting Stuck on Conditional Relationships
Not everyone grows out of these conditional relationships. Many people, for whatever reason, get stuck in the coolness economy and continue to play the game well into adulthood. The manipulation gets more sophisticated but the same games are there. They never let go of the belief that love and acceptance are contingent on some benefit they’re providing to people, some condition that they must fulfill.
The problem with conditional relationships is that they inherently prioritize something else above the relationship. So it’s not you I really care about, but rather your access to people in the music industry. Or it’s not really me you care about, but my fantastically handsome face and witty one-liners (I know, I know — it’s OK).
These conditional relationships can get really fucked up on an emotional level. Because the decision to chase “coolness” doesn’t just happen. Chasing coolness is something we do because we feel shitty about ourselves and desperately need to feel otherwise.
So it’s not really you I care about, but rather using you to make me feel good about myself. Maybe I’m always trying to save you or fix your problems or provide for you or impress you in some way. Maybe I’m using you for sex or money or to impress my friends. Maybe you are using me for sex, and that makes me feel good because for once I feel wanted and seen.
Draw it up however you’d like, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same. These are relationships built on conditions. They are built on: “I will love you only if you make me feel good about myself; you will love me only if I make you feel good about yourself.”
Conditional relationships are inherently selfish. When I care about your money more than you, then really all I’m having a relationship with is money. If you care more about the career success of your partner than you do about her, then you don’t really have a relationship with her, just her career. If your mother only takes care of you and puts up with your little alcohol habit because it makes her feel better about herself as a mother, then she doesn’t really have a relationship with you, she has a relationship with feeling good about herself as a mother.
When our relationships are conditional, we don’t really have relationships at all.
We attach ourselves to superficial objects and ideas and then try to live them vicariously through the people we become close to. These conditional relationships then make us even more lonely because no real connection is ever being made.
Conditional relationships also cause us to tolerate being treated poorly. After all, if I’m dating someone because she has a rockin’ bod that impresses all my guy friends, then I’m more likely to allow myself to be treated like crap by her because, after all, I’m not with her for how she treats me, I’m with her to impress others.
Conditional relationships don’t last because the conditions they are based upon never last. And once the conditions are gone, like a rug that’s pulled out from under you, the two people involved will fall and hurt themselves and will have never seen it coming.
What Unconditional Love is
This transitory nature of conditional relationships is usually something people can only see with the passage of a sufficient amount of time. Teenagers are young and just discovering their identities, so it makes sense that they are constantly obsessed with how they measure up to others. But as years go on, most people realize that few people stick around in their lives. And there’s probably a reason for that.
As most people age, most of them come to prioritize unconditional relationships — relationships where each person is accepted unconditionally for whoever he or she is, without additional expectations. This is called “adulthood” and it’s a mystical land that few people, regardless of their age, ever see, much less inhabit.
The trick to “growing up” is to prioritize unconditional relationships, to learn how to appreciate someone despite their flaws, mistakes, bum ideas, and to judge a partner or a friend solely based on how they treat you, not based on how you benefit from them, to see them as an end within themselves rather than a means to some other end.
Unconditional relationships are relationships where both people respect and support each other without any expectation of something in return. To put it another way, each person in the relationship is primarily valued for the relationship itself — the mutual empathy and support — not for their job, status, appearance, success, or anything else.
Unconditional relationships are the only real relationships. They cannot be shaken by the ups and downs of life. They are not altered by superficial benefits and failures. If you and I have an unconditional friendship, it doesn’t matter if I lose my job and move to another country, or you get a sex change and start playing the banjo; you and I will continue to respect and support each other. The relationship is not subjected to the coolness economy where I drop you the second you start hurting my chances to impress others. And I definitely don’t get butthurt if you choose to do something with your life that I wouldn’t choose.
People with conditional relationships never learned to see the people around them in terms of anything other than the benefits they provide. That’s because they likely grew up in an environment where they were only appreciated for the benefits they provided.
Parents, as usual, are often the culprits here. But most parents are not consciously conditional towards their children (in fact, chances are that they were never loved unconditionally by their parents, so they’re just doing all they know how to do). But as with all relationship skills, it starts in the family.
If dad only approved of you when you obeyed his orders; if mom only liked you when you were making good grades; if brother was only nice to you when no one else was around; these things all train you to subconsciously treat yourself as some tool for other people’s benefits. You will then build your future relationships by molding yourself to fit other people’s needs. Not your own. You will also build your relationships by manipulating others to fit your needs rather than take care of them yourself. This is the basis for a toxic relationship.
Conditions cut both ways. You don’t stay friends with a person who is using you to feel better about themselves unless you too are somehow getting some benefit out of the friendship as well. Despite what every girl who posts cheesy Marilyn Monroe quotes on Facebook thinks, you don’t accidentally get suckered into dating someone who uses you for your tits because you’re unconditionally loving yourself. No, you bought into that person’s conditions because you were using them to meet your own conditions.
Most conditional relationships are entered into unconsciously — that is, they are entered into without conscious thought about who this person is or why they like you or what their behavior towards you indicates. You just see their sweet tattoos and envy their rad bike and want to be close to them.
People who enter into conditional relationships enter into them for the simple reason that these relationships feel really good, yet they never stop to question why it feels so good. After all, cocaine feels pretty good, but you don’t run out and buy a bunch the second you see it, do you?
(Don’t answer that.)
Create hypotheticals with your relationships. Ask yourself:
“If I lost my job, would dad still respect me?”
“If I stopped giving her money, would mom still love me and accept me?”
“If I told my wife that I wanted to start a career as a photographer, would it wreck our marriage?”
“If I stopped having sex with this guy, would he still want to see me?”
“If I told Jake that I strongly disagree with his decision, would he stop talking to me?”
But you need to also turn around and ask them about yourself, too:
“If I moved to Kentucky, would I still keep in touch with Paul?”
“If John didn’t get me free tickets to concerts, would I bother hanging out with him?”
“If Dad stopped paying for school, would I still go home and visit?”
There are a million hypothetical questions and you should be asking yourself every single one of them. All the time.
Because if any of them ever has an answer other than, “It would change nothing,” then you probably have a conditional relationship on your hands — i.e., you don’t have a real loving relationship where you think you do.
It hurts to admit, I know.
But wait, there’s more!
If you want to remove or repair the conditional relationships in your life and have strong unconditional relationships, you are going to have to piss some people off. What I mean is that you have to stop accepting people’s conditions. And you have to let go of your own.
This invariably involves telling someone close to you “no” in the exact situation they want to hear it the least. It will cause drama. A shit-storm of drama in many cases. After all, what you are doing is you are taking somebody who has been using parts of you to make themselves feel better and denying their ability to do so. Their reaction will be angry and they will blame you. They will say a lot of mean things about you.
But don’t become discouraged. This sort of reaction is just further proof of the conditions on the relationship. A real honest love is willing to respect and accept something it doesn’t want to hear. A conditional love will fight back.
But this drama is necessary. Because one of two things will emerge from it. Either the person will be unable to let go of their conditions and they will therefore remove themselves from your life (which, ultimately, is a good thing in most cases). Or, the person will be forced to appreciate you unconditionally, to love you in spite of the inconveniences you may pose to themselves or their self-esteem.
This is really fucking hard, of course. But relationships are difficult by nature because people are difficult by nature. If life was just all fun and fellatio, then nothing good would ever get done. And no one would ever grow.
Some of the links below are affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase at no cost to you. This post is not sponsored.
A few weeks ago, a friend told me she’d found a book called 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain. The title intrigued me and luckily it was available to download from my library, so I started it that night and finished reading it the next day.
As I was reading the book on Sunday, I decided I was going to try a weekly digital detox starting that day and then every Sunday for a month.
I’m already pretty conscious with my phone usage (my phone is always on do not disturb mode with time limits for social media apps), but I’d never thought to take a full day away from my digital devices.
When you’re constantly plugged-in to apps and devices designed to steal your attention (Netflix has said their main competitor is sleep), you start to lose track of reality and your identity outside of technology.
I thought this was the perfect experiment to see if it would have a positive effect on my mindset. After implementing weekly digital detoxes every Sunday for a month, I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned and how I made it work without getting bored.
The book 24/6 is based on Tiffany Shlain’s experience of taking one day a week off from technology. Inspired by her Jewish heritage, Shlain calls them “Technology Shabbats”. She combines a screen-free twenty-four hours with Shabbat rituals like a special Friday-night meal with family and friends.
Her family (kids included) goes screen-free from Friday night to Saturday night and limits all smart technology like cell phones. They even use a landline to make phone calls and a record player to listen to music (I knew I wasn’t going to implement these things with my experiment).
What most inspired me to try this idea out was the author’s description of her Saturday routine. Here’s what her family’s Tech Shabbat’s look like (I’ll share mine later):
Friday afternoon – pick up fresh fruit and flowers from the farmers market
Friday night – host friends for dinner (make the same meal every Friday to take out the guesswork)
Saturday morning – journal, read
Saturday afternoon – music (listening and playing), cooking, excursions to the library, bike ride, basketball, yoga, scheduled activities, errands, etc.
The Benefits of a Digital Detox
Why would you want to go tech-free once a week? Here are some key benefits to this weekly practice:
More time for hobbies
Unplugging gives us time to grow and learn new skills. Often we avoid doing this because we think we don’t have enough time, but really we don’t have the attention span to even try.
Shlain talks about her own struggle with impatience and how unplugging helps her to practice patience. When we practice unplugging, we can develop our character strengths and work on improving our weaknesses.
When we unplug, we’re able to give our attention more generously to the people around us. It also gives us the opportunity to connect more deeply with ourselves without distraction or comparison.
“By giving you a complete day off each week from screens, from obligations, from being available, letting you reflect and connect, tech Shabbat becomes the ultimate technology to make you the most creative, present, and productive version of yourself.”
My Digital Detox Routine
My usual Sunday routine would involve watching YouTube for hours, scrolling through social media, and browsing the internet aimlessly. Though I didn’t follow the detox as intensely as Shlain does, here are some rules I set for myself:
No checking email
No social media
Only use phone for texts or calls
No TV during the day (one or two episodes at night was okay)
Here’s a monthly recap of what my Sunday schedule looked like:
Started the 24/6 book on Saturday night and decided I wanted to try it the next day
Went for a walk in the morning
Read for most of the day
Did a family dinner over Facetime
Watched an episode of Tiger King
One thing I noticed is that I had a hard time falling asleep. I was expecting the best sleep of my life, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
Spent too long on Pinterest + Amazon trying to find a kitchen corner shelf
Cleaned my apartment
Family FaceTime dinner
Watched an episode of Into the Night on Netflix (such a good show!)
Went to bed at 10:30
I definitely broke my detox this day by spending way too long on Pinterest and Amazon on my phone. I was feeling inspired to find a corner shelf for my kitchen and that led to overthinking which one to buy. That night, I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep until 5.
Visited my mom for Mother’s day with my sister (we sat 6-feet away from each other on the grass)
Cleaned my apartment
Worked out (I used my iPad to follow a workout)
Visited my boyfriend’s mom for Mother’s day (again, we sat 6-feet away from each other outside)
Watched one episode of Girls
I felt tempted to go on social media this day, but spending time with family (at a distance, of course) kept me occupied. Looking back, I could have probably created my own workout without needing to follow a video. I didn’t have any issues falling or staying asleep this night.
After a month of this challenge, here are some key things I’ve learned or experienced from unplugging once a week:
It gives me something to look forward to
Taking a day away from the online world feels like an escape and an excuse to get away from it all. I knew on Sundays that my day would be calm and relaxing, and that made it something to look forward to every week.
I can stay occupied without technology
I’ve read more books in the past month than I have in a long time. It definitely made me realize that I can keep myself occupied without relying on technology. If you’ve ever wanted to take up a hobby or learn a language, this would be the perfect way to do it.
I’m more productive on Mondays
Since I wouldn’t stay up late on Sunday night watching Netflix or scrolling through TikTok, I woke up on Monday mornings in a good state of mind. I felt like I had more clarity and motivation to get started on my to-do list without procrastinating.
I’m more motivated to be efficient
Knowing that I couldn’t do any kind of work on Sunday made me more efficient during the week. Instead of telling myself I could do a few things on Sunday, I got them done ahead of time so I could fully embrace my tech-and-work-free Sundays.
Would you try a weekly digital detox?
Based on what I’ve learned and experienced from this monthly challenge, I definitely plan to keep doing these Sunday digital detoxes. I think I’ll even try to go the whole day without watching TV to see if that makes a difference.
I hope this post has encouraged you to try your own digital detox one day a week for 24 hours. If you want more ideas for making a digital detox work, I highly recommend the 24/6 book.