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    September 2013
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Personal Responsibility and Social Change

Posted by georgiannasaysjustdoyou on September 19, 2013

This week, the Miss America title was won by Indian American Nina Davuluri. For many of us, this kind of a breakthrough achievement for a woman of color is a cause for celebration. For others, it brings out the reality of the very real presence of racism, hatred, bad behavior and negativity. As discouraging and deflating as these negative reminders can be, there exists opportunity.
Whether it is racism, sexism, violence, domestic violence, bullying, anti-Semitism, discrimination or any of the long lists of ways that we see people behaving badly and in ways that harm others, we play a role in allowing it.
The reality is that we know these individuals personally. We witness the harmful behavior first-hand. Some of us respond by looking away, holding our breath, frowning and shaking our heads, hiding our Facebook feed or unfriending the offender. I would argue that these passive behaviors don’t go far enough. Not holding the offender directly accountable with words and actions is the same as an endorsement that allows the behavior to continue uninterrupted. If you are going to unfriend someone on Facebook or hide their feed, tell them. Otherwise, they won’t know that you are offended or that their behavior is not being taken well.
If we want the world to make TRUE progress and be a place where we all have a seat at the table, then we must take personal responsibility for our actions. Inaction = action. The absence of critical feedback can be an endorsement and permission to continue. Social change can and will only happen when we call our brothers, sisters, cousins, family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors on their harmful behavior.
In my years working with survivors of domestic violence, I can tell you that a continuous thread of commonality was in their dismay at the silence of the witnesses to their abuse.
I am NEVER recommending that you put yourself in physical harms way. I AM saying that we miss many opportunities to hold the people in our lives accountable.
One last thought on this for now…there is big difference between having an opinion about a subject or action and mixing that message by disparaging or harming someone based on their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability and so on. If you are guilty of this, you can change. You can think about what you are saying and why. Who are you trying to reach? What is your message? But if you can’t see it, it is my fervent hope that someone in your life does and tells you about it.
This world can be a better, safer place for all of us. It starts with personal accountability.

I don’t have the answers, but I always have thoughts. Won’t you share yours?


2 Responses to “Personal Responsibility and Social Change”

  1. Wow. This article is powerful. Great job Georgianna. This message needs to be shared around!!

  2. Outstanding. I agree.

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