Your Invitation: Three Gifts The Anti-Racist Uprising Brought Me | Joshua Freedman | 7 Min Read

My strategy was to avoid the topic. 

I considered myself “not racist,” but when issues of racism came up, I’d demur, “it’s not my area of expertise.” In other words: I didn’t want to do that work. When I’d see the videos of brutality against BIPOC community members, I’d scroll quickly past. I didn’t want to think those thoughts. I didn’t want to feel those feelings.

Yet in the last six months, something’s begun to change for me. I want to share my thanks for the gifts of learning and support I’ve received in this space — and to attempt to share three of those gifts back out. 

Perhaps the sense of helplessness I experienced with the pandemic helped me shift from my position of apathy. The grief and uncertainty of March-June 2020 left me raw. So, with the Black Lives Matter uprising in June of 2020, I’ll be honest and say that my first reaction was: “Really? This too… now?” Then I remembered Hillel-the-Elder’s questions of: If not now, then when? If not me, then who?

“Emotions have fueled racism, but emotions can also fuel liberation.” -@eqjosh

1. The Gift of Allyship

In June 2020, I thought, “I can be an ally.” Now, I see it differently.

On June 2, we had planned a livestream panel about social emotional learning and the brutal effects that the pandemic was having on student and teacher wellbeing — starting at 8 a.m. At 7:50 a.m. the panelists and I checked in, and it was clear we needed to pivot the conversation. Looking at the video now, I can see how stunned and lost I was that morning.

That panel taught me something I never knew before. I experienced something I’d never felt before: Emotions have fueled racism, but emotions can also fuel liberation.

The next day, we continued the conversation about emotional intelligence and racism in another livestream, and it was not easy, but this work isn’t supposed to be. These discussions are the beginning of what is critical to ensure our survival, to regain, and ensure our humanity: Listen to these words.

This conversation is ongoing. It’s still hard to be…

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua Freedman, CEO, Six Seconds, is one of the pioneers in the field of emotional intelligence; he cofounded Six Seconds in 1997, is the bestselling author of At the Heart of Leadership and five other books and six validated psychometric assessments on EQ, and contributor to many EQ programs including Coaching Equity Essentials. He’s also an instructor at Columbia Teachers College SPA administrative credential program; he is cocreator of the world’s largest social emotional learning program, POP-UP Festival ­— in partnership with UNICEF World Children’s Day, bringing skills for emotional wellbeing to millions of children & adults in 200+ countries.