Listening, Reading, Watching, Learning and… Doing

I have been immersed in my own intensive learning of history, perspective, truth and understanding of the world I never actually had a full picture of. Love of learning is my top “signature strength,” and with Fairness ranking #2 for me, I am going deep in this moment.

This arena of learning and perspective isn’t entirely new to me. As I took down my Christmas tree this past January, I was listening to the 1619 podcast about the history of American slavery. Hearing for the first time a history of this country that was not taught to me in my highly rated public school education, I began my personal exploration of the connections I never put together before. I saw in a new light the reliance of the economy of the cotton industry on slaves to the point where the value of the slaves owned by the plantation owners was actually leveraged against the plantations themselves.

Even if I learned some of these same details in school back in NY (in my Long Island town that my high school Constitutional Law teacher called “Lily-white Northport”), I certainly was not taught the impact of the emerging American economy on the lives of slaves. Maybe I missed the day we discussed any question of morality instead of simply being taught the timeline of Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin and how great that was for the Industrial Revolution.

My partner and I have been having vibrant discussions for the past few weeks. These conversations have helped me hone in my beliefs and understand more thoroughly the truths and history I have been learning as he is a “debater” at heart and asks me for more information when I come with my more emotion-based arguments. We had a deeper conversation a week ago and he explained that he doesn’t disagree with me and is not just debating for the purpose of debating, but he is looking for the data and sources that help with his way of understanding.

It was a great conversation and made me realize that my self-learning can have a greater impact when I share what I am learning more broadly. I tend to process and process and change internally, which of course eventually comes out, but I hold my voice and opinions close. It is time to share what I have been learning and be in this conversation with more and more people.

I wanted to write this post to start the conversation and share some insights and education I have picked up since choosing to open my eyes in a new direction, but the truth is complex. What I have been learning is too much information to project onto you at once, yet it is only the tip of the iceberg, and we are all on our own journeys of learning.

So let me simply get out a list to you of the various works I have been discovering. There is so much more to uncover, so much more to process and understand.

I am listening, reading, watching, learning and most importantly stepping up and doing.

Here’s what I have been listening to:

Here’s what I have been reading:

Here’s what I have been watching:

  • 13thon Netflix by director Ava DuVernay

Here’s what I have been doing:

  • I joined a year-long study group on My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.
  • I put this sign (below) on my lawn, which I’m a little embarrassed to say was actually a challenge for me. Since putting it up, three neighbors I’ve only spoken to a little (one not at all) have commented that they really like it.
  • I went to the local Being Better Neighbors: Solidarity Against Racial Injustice march last weekend with my partner and his kids.
  • I am engaging in more and more real conversations and learning what else I can do.

Do you have thoughts/questions/ideas/beliefs you want to explore? Email me at jess@thebalancetree.com to join me for a judgement-free conversation. Let’s learn together.

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