A couple of weeks ago, I asked my friend Jennifer Fujimoto to be my anti-racism accountability buddy so we could support each other in our ongoing (and perhaps a life-long) work.
She said yes, and we met on zoom last Saturday.
We had a heartfelt and honest conversation about our own experience with racism and how we have been allowing white supremacy to thrive in this country.
One of the many inspiring things Jen said resonated with me deeply.
She said instead of telling people what to do or what they should’ve known, she wanted to invite people in and share what she’s doing and learning.
So I decided to share (and will continue to share) my learning and anti-racism work with you – not because I’m better or have all the answers – but if it moves you to take meaningful actions to create a more equitable, safe world for everyone, I’m here for it. For as long as it takes.
I also want you to know I’m not looking for your sympathy or validation – I’m just doing what I should’ve been doing all along. I’m way late for this. Now I’m taking responsibility. No need for a praise.
Ok, so here are some of the things I’ve been reflecting on and doing for the last two weeks (in no particular order):
+ Giving myself space to grieve and honor the collective pain and loss of Black lives, which unfortunately still continues. Empathy fuels me to keep doing the work.
+ Having ongoing conversations about racism with my partner, Dave, who is a straight, cis white man. We’ve both experienced hurt and frustrations trying to navigate these types of conversations before. We’re doing better, and these difficult conversations are bringing us closer.
+ Asking myself how and why I’ve invested in my proximity to whiteness. Examining internalized colorism (that is so rampant in Japan and many other Asian countries) and how it’s shaped my self-worth. How am I holding onto “lighter the better” belief for myself? (e.g. wearing long sleeves on a sunny day – am I chilly or am I trying not to get darker? Am I lightening my skin color beyond my natural skin tone when I edit photos?) And since I’m not considered “dark” in the US and am benefiting from a white supremacist system, is calling out anti-blackness threatening my sense of security (however false that may be)?
+ Digging deeper in my guiding values: self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. I know my work is helpful and these messages are important for everybody – but also recognizing that if you (and people who look like you) are facing systemic dehumanization and violence every day, these concepts are not as accessible. And how are they inspiring others to make a difference (or not)? I’m working to better clarify my values and intentions for myself and Honeyberry Studios and integrate it into my designs and messaging.
+ Majority of my fans are white, straight, cis-gendered women. While I appreciate and care about every single customer equally, I also have to wonder why it is. Who am I not serving and why? Whose opinions am I valuing more than others? How is my intention showing up (or not showing up) in my work and my messaging?
+ I’ve avoided bringing up certain issues that are important to me, like racism, fatphobia, and LGBTQ liberation, with you because I didn’t know where you stood and didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. I realize now that my passivity has caused a lot of harm. I’m making a commitment to place my integrity over comfort (and profit) and will share more often how these issues are part of my inspiration moving forward.
+ Attending webinars (mostly for Asian American/ Pacific Islander allies) and watch Small Business Reimagine Town Hall to tweak my biz practice to align with my anti-racism value.
+ Signed up and became a Patreon at Anti-Racism Daily Email. Reading, learning, and taking at least one suggested action every day.
+ More readings. I’ve found these helpful:
“How to help your Black and non-Black friends right now” by Kat Vellos
“Why claims of mental illness don’t excuse racism” by Imani Barbarin
“Don’t use domestic violence victims to derail police reform” by Melissa Jeltsen
+ Continuing to create art and content for my “100 Brighter Days” email series. To be completely honest, it’s been really hard to engage in anything that’s not directly “fixing” the world 😞 I know beauty and joy are important and necessary. And art is the vehicle through which I could deliver my messages most effectively. I’m working to find my center again and get re-engaged with my work with a renewed purpose.
+ Practicing compassion, healing from traumas, and taking care of myself so I can continue to show up as an effective ally for as long as the work is needed. This is not a sprint – it’s a marathon!
+ Giving financially to various BIPOC orgs and individuals when I can.
As you can see, I don’t have a well-organized to-do list.
I believe each of our journey is unique and we’re on a different place on our journey.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. We make mistakes and learn from them.
I’m making a point of doing something every day and not “moving on” when the news media stops covering protests and Black Lives Matter movement.
Be brave, my friend.
If you’re a white ally – I kindly ask you to share your struggles, disagreements, and confusions in your anti-racism work with your white friends (and/or BIPOC friends/ paid-professionals who have consented to help you.)
It’s draining for me and many people of color I know to manage a white person’s emotions around racism and anti-racism work, no matter who close we are. It’s always been hard, and I’m sorry I’ve never asked you not to do it. Now you know.
Stay well and strong 💜
ps. My emails (except for “100 Brighter Days”) may be somewhat irregular for a while and I may not respond to all of your messages (that are not customer inquiries) to give myself extra space. Please know my shop is always open, and your orders are shipping out daily if you need any Rainbow goodies for Pride or Father’s Day cards. I appreciate your continuing support!