16th June 2020

Are you really listening?

boy listening through can

Are you stopping yourself from really listening?

Right now we are being called to listen, really listen, to the realities of racism today.

And, in order to listen properly now, this means recognising that we haven’t really been listening for a long time.

Perhaps we listened and connected and empathised for a while and then we heard something confronting like “if you are white you are racist” and immediately, instead of actively, deeply listening to what is being said, we are flooded with indignation and defensiveness and start to construct our own words to prove the speaker wrong.  In that moment we are no longer listening.

I ask you now to take a moment to notice your reaction to that last paragraph.

Notice how you are feeling. Notice whether you want to understand more about how you are racist or whether you want to prove that you are not racist.

If it’s the latter (and that would have been me a couple of years ago), then you’ve stopped listening.

Here’s what I wrote about listening in 2018:

“Keep listening, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Listening is not the same as agreeing, nor is it a commitment to changing something as a result. When we’re confronted with strong feelings, it can feel safer (and, let’s be honest, easier) to withdraw, ignore it and hope it will go away. But great listening gives space for emotion and looks beyond it to recognise which values are being threatened.”

Listening isn’t just about hearing what you agree with or what you think you know already.

Listening isn’t about YOU at all.

When you understand and accept that, you can let go of your discomfort or disagreement without breaking your attention to what is being said.

It’s easier said than done and I’ve struggled over the past couple of weeks to get over myself and stay connected to the hard truths I am hearing but I’m getting there and I am learning.

If you are ready to listen, really listen, and to learn, I have found these resources enlightening.

https://www.meandwhitesupremacybook.com/ by Layla F Saaid





Book: Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race