David G. Miller Jr. is a Social Entrepreneur and a Motivational Speaker. He is the Founder of One Step, a 501© (3) non-profit after school assistance program for youth ages 12-17 years old. He is also the President of the David Miller Group. www.davidmillergroup.com
“He who is the most comfortable is the least likely to change.”
I recently heard a young black lady ask a room full of successful white business people “How uncomfortable are you willing to get?” After she posed that question I could feel the air being sucked right out of the room. Although, I am generally very comfortable being in uncomfortable situations, I must say that the feeling of awkwardness that overcame the room at that moment was quite disturbing. The young black lady asked this question as it related to economic development and inequalities within the system. I felt that her curiosity was warranted and right on time in lieu of all of the recent shootings of unarmed blacks in the country. What I did not feel was a sincere desire to change these actions from the folks in that room. So then the question that came to me was “WHY?” Why did I not feel confident that these matters are taken seriously among this group of successful people? Why do we need them to be uncomfortable in order to start the steps to changing these brutal outcomes? Why don’t we look to ourselves to find the answers to these questions and many more? Finally, how uncomfortable are we willing to get?
Allow me to pose a question to you. If someone comes up to you out of the clear blue and hauls off and smacks the taste water out of your mouth and then immediately apologizes, does the mere act of apologizing save them from a thrashing? I cannot speak for you, but in my mind the answer to that absurd question is an emphatic NO! So, why is it that we feel we need an apology from the white community for the years of (and prolonged effects of) slavery? Why do we need them to reach a level of uncomfortableness, the same uncomfortableness we face from day-to-day by just going about our business being black in America? What if we really realized that our adversity is our advantage and what if we truly decided to finally use this to our advantage? I think then we would stumble across the starting blocks of real, significant change. I think then we would understand that every war has casualties and we would begin to empower those among us to fight the good fight. We would fight not only on the battle field, but fight for a position on our school boards, on the ballot, in our hospitals, in our banks, and in leadership roles in our communities. Here is a riddle for you. When two countries are at war with each other, which country is truly comfortable? One would imagine that the country that is the richest would be comfortable, but I can assure you that this is not true! Each country stands to lose something and I do not know anyone or any country that is comfortable taking an “L” at any level. Fair enough?
There is no doubt that we are living in the age of black male extermination, and there is no way of denying this fact. We all understand to some degree that there is a school to prison pipeline for our young black men. Why are we comfortable with this? Why do we need white people to be uncomfortable with this? Think about those two questions for a minute. I mean really think about them. I know that many of you reading this blog are not comfortable with the current state of affairs. I also understand that many others feel that they have limited or no power over these situations, but I want to assure you that your feelings of powerlessness are false. You have all the power, in fact you are the power, product, and resource needed to create the change that you want to see. In order to do that, I feel it is very important for us to have a sense of direction. Simply put, we must know where we are in order to get to where we are going. If you use a GPS in your vehicle to get directions to a particular destination, is it not important for that same GPS to have the coordinates to your current location? The same is true for us as a people. Do not get me wrong, it is not enough to understand our direction alone. We must also develop a sustainable plan for educating, empowering and employing our people. We can do all of these things without white Americans being uncomfortable (in the sense that she was offering).
It should not matter how uncomfortable they become, what matters is how uncomfortable we are!
Let me make one thing completely clear. We do not need a leader we need a movement! We need to produce and develop a system that helps us escape the invisible prison of poverty. Therefore, I suggest we all say the following aloud a few times daily. “I do not need anyone to be comfortable in order for me to create change, just as I do not need anyone else’s answers to my problems. I am uncomfortable enough to pursue my own answers and to provide my own solutions in an effort to create the change I want to see!” By saying these words and thinking in this manner we manifest within ourselves a conscious state of critical awareness. This awareness when used properly alongside other skillsets can garner results and implement a structure that is beneficial to our legacy. This approach creates change and at the very least allows us to identify where and how change should be applied. If we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem, flat out!!
Change is coming, but it only comes when we start to look within and not outside of ourselves!!
So, what is the cost of comfort?
Is it worth it?
If not, what are you going to do about it?