This week has been a crazy media frenzie with politics and our professional sports teams protesting for equality in a way that has grabbed the attention of our nation and got everyone talking. Regardless of whether you side with the folks who say #stand, or #sit, or #lock arms, or even #pray… speaking your truth and standing up for your beliefs IS your birthright as an American and our First Amendment protects us to do so.
As a former NFL Cheerleader, standing and saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag was one of my favorite moments while being on the sideline. We would line up behind the singer, flag covering the field and often times military representatives would stand out there with us. We would do this dazzling roll-off in uniform and end it with placing our left hand on our left hip and our right hand over our heart. I would ALWAYS get teary eye because of the energy and force behind what our national anthem stands for and whoever was singing would sing their heart out with passion, emotion and honor. It would remind me of all the USO tours we went on visiting our military men and women in Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, and many other countries. This moment was special and I never once took it for granted.
As a daughter and sister from a military family, I am honored by this country and respect all that I’ve been able to do, including simple things, like being able to drive a car (did you know Saudi Arabia is barely passing a law for women to drive in their country… it’s 2017 people!). It breaks my heart to see our country divided not only with this “kneeling or standing topic” but also with other very important issues like being able to speak your truth as an American. We all have the right to speak up and protest if we want change and we all have the right to disagree with change. But what’s more critical than being right or “wrong” is just simply not speaking at all.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King
We HAVE to move forward and make true change for equality so that 25-50 years from now, our future generations can live in a positive way that was built from our efforts of supporting diversity and and letting go of inequality. In order to be a part of this change, I encourage you to speak your truth by:
Listen to yourself first.
Are you following someone else’s footsteps? Are you afraid your friends and family would disapprove? Figure out where you stand on diversity and take an honest, personal assessment.
Do you have diversity in your life? Do you engage with new cultures and beliefs to experience and broaden your own perspective?
Feel your truth GUT and speak up.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you must speak up, don’t let that moment slip you by.
If it’s sitting in the pit of your stomach – that is a sign!
Lead by example and take action.
It’s easier to stay within your comfort zone and look the other way. But what good does that do for our human race? If you find yourself the only female, only male, only person who’s transgender in a situation, it’s an opportunity to close the diversity gap of understanding and lead.
For example, I have made a strategic life journey to trail blaze and develop diverse relationships of all kinds, selecting career paths that are male dominated and signing up for classes like yoga where I tend to be the only “black woman” attending.
We as Americans, are all lucky to speak freely and build a life made out of our dreams. We also have a responsibility as citizens to respect and honor others who don’t have the same beliefs. Diversity of beliefs and thoughts can bring the best solutions to some of the most critical problems in life.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King