Growing up, it never really mattered to me what my friends looked like. I mean, I always knew when someone was a bit racist but my mom raised us with the principle that Jesus loves everyone, it doesn’t matter what their skin color is and to treat everyone how you’d like to be treated (and I’m very thankful for that).

I went to a pretty diverse high school in the Chicago suburbs and even though everyone was cliquey (because hello… it’s high school) but my experience didn’t see race as the driving force for a lot of cliques. It was more about which extracurriculars you were in, inside jokes, whatever other shit we had in common. If you were “cool,” you were cool, and it didn’t really matter what you looked like.

That said, at the end of the day, I just think there are so many factors that we as a society need to address beyond just the police. Yes, they suck, but they’re not the only institution that is preventing equality. From what I’ve seen, heard, and read… in order to change the institutions, it starts at home and it starts within every single one of us. When we look inward, it helps us to address the world outside of us, to figure out how to take action a step further, and to finally join together as one – as allies – and make a real difference in this country that frankly, has been fucked up since the start.

To get there, we can’t simply rely on force and aggressive rhetoric. I know we’re angry, but aggression silences so many friends who want to help but aren’t really sure where to start. We all need to reach out to each other and check in. Our shy and timid friends might need help opening up… and with all the negativity and aggression in the world and online right now… speaking up is not easy for everyone.

We need to be kind to one another. To help. To love. Friends, we can’t do it alone.

I work for GoDaddy and one of my close friends and colleagues is part of our Black in Technology organization. They put together an event last week called Be Heard, which gave the opportunity for our friends and colleagues to share their experiences dealing with racism. It was extremely powerful and not just because these are people I know and love. It made me realize how much power there is in empathy and connecting on a deeper level.

This post is a starting point. The first of many posts. For those of you who are brave enough, I want to share your stories and help spread awareness. Please reach out to me via Instagram (I check that more than my email, sorry not sorry) if you’re willing to share.

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