I'm reminded of a lobster. I don't know how many people know how a lobster grows, but what they do is they don't start off big, they're little lobsters with hard shells and then they crawl under a rock when they've kind of grown as much as they possibly can. They can't grow anymore so they have to shed that hard exoskeleton and become this little like really vulnerable jelly like lobster and a new exoskeleton grows with tons of room to grow again. They repeat this process over and over and over and over, if they don’t, they die inside their shell and they die the really little lobster. Every time we talk about "here's our tools to make it awkward, here, you just need to reach out to somebody you don't know, all of these things are uncomfortable" and you say be comfortable being uncomfortable and it's like it reminds me be like the lobster.
Understand that you're going to become vulnerable in order to grow into what we all want to be and to welcome said uncomfortableness because it's kind of the path to where we need to go. So my summary of all of the love and things that happen, I feel like be like a lobster. Then we make it awkward everywhere and understand that it feels amazing. Over the last like eight months we've been asked oftentimes to have these tools. To equip people with some tools so they are able to be everyday activists in situations like this that don't put themselves in danger and keep themselves safe but also make sure we're moving forward this agenda of love, humanity and understanding.
There's three of them that we've put together that really seem to encompass most situations:
One of them that we were just talking about there, we call it why, why, why, right? So if somebody were to come up and they want to tell you this is how I feel about indigenous people and they make me feel uncomfortable and I'm scared, you ask them "why?". They already have the floor and they want to talk to you about their feelings, but hate, racism and discrimination, they really disintegrate every time you ask a "why", right? Sooner or later it starts to just fall apart and you can't really answer those which is a neat thing to do with someone when you're doing it with humanity and love not to poke, prod and elevate.
Another version, this is my favourite one, we call it "get the lettuce out". This one is let's just say, "we're friends". Lewis and I are friends. Lewis got ready for tonight, he's looking great, everything's good and before he went out he didn’t look in the mirror and there was this big lettuce in his teeth, now I'm his friend. I should tell him about the lettuce that is in his teeth. But, if I didn't, he goes out there having a great day and everyone's like "oh, should I tell him? I don't know". You should tell him, right? I'm his friend. I should tell him. Now, let's just pretend that lettuce was a sexist or racist comment or a derogatory statement instead. Now you're that person's friend. You know they're not a racist person but they keep saying these things off the cuff. It's up to you to get the racist lettuce out of the man's teeth or the woman's teeth. Real simple.
The very last one, this is the one that deals with safety: You're in a public place and someone's like verbally accosting somebody, you don't want to get involved because you don't want any kind of aggravation to escalate. Instead turn your attention to the victim. Be the victim's friend. The friend zone. Go talk to them. Ignore what's happening over there. Instead of putting yourself in a dangerous position let them know they're not alone because we feel alone. When you're attacked in a crowded room you feel like you're by yourself because no one steps up. Your head's down and you have one person who's getting it. If we can do that – it does take courage. It is uncomfortable to do these things, but they're very tangible and safe to do. I thought that was a good little interjection to toss in some of the make it awkward tools that we've been using so right on.