Kai Lawson

#myrealrecognizereal

Kai Lawson
#myrealrecognizereal

There’s a scene in the movie Malcolm X,  where a young white woman, walking across a college campus, asks Malcolm, what can she do to help his efforts. His response is simple, direct and disappointing to the young woman. He says “Nothing” and walks away.  

I love this movie, and I like to watch it, at the very least once a year (purposefully), as a reminder that the shit I read about in the news, everyday— ain’t new. However, I’ve always felt conflicted about this scene. I like to consider myself a “by any means necessary” kinda girl and to me that includes recognizing and utilizing opportunities in all people, places or things. So to just turn down support, from an unlikely and un-targeted supporter, seemed counter productive, to me. 

I don’t necessarily believe there is a right way to contribute to social change. I also don’t believe there is a wrong way. I do believe that small efforts are better than no efforts and I’d rather see people stumble over themselves trying to understand and fix a problem, than sitting quietly and idly because it’s “not someone’s place to comment”. In fact, it blows my mind, the number of people who feel it’s not someones place to help push an agenda, because they don’t physically fit the profile of whatever oppressed group is in question. 

Let me get candid here: For everyone who says shit like— Jessie Williams can’t speak on Black Lives Matter because he’s bi-racial or too light skinned, or white people can’t speak on the impact of Beyonce’s Lemonade, or that Feminism and Womanism are ideologies that are anti man— YOU ARE APART OF THE PROBLEM. YES. YOU. THATS RIGHT! I SAID IT. AND WHAT?! FIGHT ME :-)

No agenda of total inclusion can be pushed if the fight for inclusivity, is exclusive in nature. Our voices need a place at tables, which we traditionally do not have access to. The issue of diversity and inclusion has already been raised within our own networks and communities. The next step is to impose these points of views on the institutions that need it most. You know— the ones that keep us out :-)

I feel strongly that in our fight for equalities of all kinds, we must embrace our own ideology of Manifest Destiny, and understand that in order to expand our reach of respect and inclusion, we will need ambassadors on the other side of these invisible boundaries to fight on our teams and push our agendas, within THEIR own communities. That means MEN will need to speak to other men about equality and respect for women, and WHITE PEOPLE will need to contribute to conversations with other white people about the need for respect and inclusion of people of color. This change in ideology ABSOLUTELY MUST change within industry, politics, and economics. 

It’s the audacity of embodying the change you seek that sparks true change. Kinda (exactly) like this article from my co-worker and sister-in-change : Five Ways Agencies Can Dismantle Systems Keeping Diversity Out. Although, I prefer the subtitle: Ad Agencies Would Be Remiss If They Did Not Address the Uncomfortable Topic of White Supremacy in the Industry :-) 

Honestly, there's nothing more BADASS than calling bullshit when you see it, demanding change when it's needed, and provoking new standards for thought and consideration. You don’t have to be wronged to recognize fuck-shit. Jay-Z said it best. Real recognize real, and you lookin’ familiar. I see a lot of familiar faces in this fight. Let’s embrace them and make more progress— By any means necessary…