[Long Post. Spoiler alert: It all comes down to Love, Conversation, and Community.]

2020 has been a year of quietness for me. At times it has been for feeling like I’m not sure what to say. At other times it’s because I want what I say to be perfect. And at times I question whether or not I’m contributing value to the conversation that is already happening.

In light of what has been happening in our communities, in our country, and in the world over the past 2 weeks, last week I took a break from all communications – email, social media, even phone calls with friends. It started because I didn’t know what to say. And then it was because there was a great call to amplify the voices of our black community, so the timing didn’t seem right for my voice. And then it was because it felt too late. And then it just turned into a continued silence.

But I know deep down, and I have been reminded time and time again, that silence is not the answer.

To my black friends, to my black community, I apologize for my silence. And I promise to do better.

I admit, for me – as I suspect is true for many of you as well, racism is hard to talk about. I, personally, have very rarely been in a situation where I am the racial minority. The closest thing I can relate to it is being a woman, and I know that it’s not the same thing. And so, I don’t know what it must be like to face racial prejudice every day. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I have likely turned a blind eye to it. I’d like to say that it’s never been intentional, but I’m not sure that’s true either. It’s because it’s been uncomfortable. Or I haven’t known what to say. Or what to do. And I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone.

Whether we are talking about racism, which is at the forefront of our minds and needs our attention, or so many other important things that are hard to talk about, the solution will never be silence. From racism to sexism to sexual orientation to mental health to human trafficking to poverty to oppression – the list goes on – silence is not our solution.

I get it. Hard conversations can be awkward, and uncomfortable, and messy. We will be confronted with harsh realities – about ourselves, our community, our relationships, and our world. I know I have been. There will be times when we don’t know what to say, when we say or do something wrong (intentionally or unintentionally), when we feel like we’ve failed (ourselves, our loved ones, our society), when we want to throw up our hands and say “this is too hard” or “I don’t have the answers” or “who am I to solve this” or “what do I really have to contribute”. But staying silent is one of the things that makes our problems worse.

I don’t have the answer. Or the solutions. But that will not prevent me from trying. And I will not allow that to be an excuse for silence.

What I do know, is that these three things will be an integral part of my solution:

Love, conversation, and community.

Love: I believe that love is the answer. Every solution is going to start with love. Love is kindness and compassion and grace. Love is an invitation. And love is an action. I will approach everything I do with the act of love. Not just for my inner circle, or my immediate community, but for every single person I encounter. Love.

Conversation: We, collectively and individually, need to be having more conversations, no matter how uncomfortable they are. We will never truly love, or understand, anyone unless we take the time to truly listen. So let me encourage you to talk about it. Ask your friends and coworkers about their experiences. Join an advocacy group in your neighborhood. Create a comfortable and safe environment for those in your life to discuss difficult issues. And come into these conversations with optimism, humility, and a willingness to learn.

Community: One of the things I have come to realize in 2020, more than ever before, is how much we need to gather in community. Helping others to feel less alone, bringing optimism to our communities, creating deep and lasting change in our world, all begins with connecting, gathering, and community. I am committing to broader, deeper, more inclusive, and more meaningful communities. I am committing to gathering together in service, in love, in conversation, in living life together more authentically and vulnerably and journeying through things together. We need to bring our communities together more than ever before – whether it’s virtual events, in-person conversations, protests, or family dinners. Let’s come together.

For all of my friends, my community, if you have felt alone, if you have faced oppression or violence, if you have been dismissed for your experience or undermined because of who you are, I apologize for my silence. And I promise to do better.

So let’s start now.

I see you. I love you. And you are not alone.

Do you want a safe space to come, be seen, and know that you matter? Let’s connect – by phone or email or coffee date in person.

Do you want to talk? About prejudice that you’ve experienced personally? About your own journey confronting the silences? Do you want a space to grow and learn and explore together? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to have the conversations.

Are you looking for an authentic and vulnerable community to learn and grow from, and with? Or are you looking for ways to bring your community together more deeply and meaningfully? Let’s chat about how to do that.

Whatever it may be, reply to this email. Let me know what’s on your heart, and we’ll set up a time to talk.

With love and optimism,
Elizabeth