Polishing the Mirror

While in a 30 person training on zoom, the instructor wanted us to do a quick round of check- ins. Something that was supposed to take 30 or 40 minutes turned into a 2+ hour journey into what my peers are currently experiencing .

  1. You never know what people are going through. The little square on the screen paints a picture of comfort, serenity, and silence. This is not always the case.

  2. Almost everyone on that screen felt that what was happening to Black people compounded their heavy-heartedness.

  3. Almost every single person cried. Because they’re tired, they themselves or their loved ones are in physical or emotional pain, and they feel defeated, scared, anxious, hopeful…

Just like me.


Which is when it dawned on me...

That is, the propensity towards empathy.

The feeling of recognition, and the softening of my heart in response to another human being.

As the phrase “this is not new” permeates our existence and envelops us like steam coming out of a subway grate, we have been left porous, open, and exposed. Ready to fight, ready to learn, ready to create change. There are still a few, however, who continue to perpetuate a dangerous lie, “I don’t understand how we got here.”

Unless you are a sociopath…which, statistically some of you probably are, I would argue that you do indeed know the answer. Inside of your heart you can make the leap through empathy and into #fedup2020.

Have you ever….

Been bullied?

Silenced?

Treated as less than what you deserve?

Worked twice as hard only to receive half as much as the next person?

Experienced gaslighting?

Felt financially insecure even though you work your ass off? Maybe even carry multiple jobs?

Been nervous about being pulled over by a police officer?

Felt not good enough?

Been treated like an outsider?

Been the only one like you in a room full of people who all seem to be similar?

Felt like the world doesn’t listen to/ cater to people like you?

Felt insecure about what you look like?

Been/ felt exoticized for your hair or body?

Lost an opportunity to someone not as skilled as you?

Been denied access to good grocery stores and places that promote wellness?

Felt that fitness or wellness was too expensive for you?

Not been able to chase dreams because of lack of funds or childcare?

I could go on and on, right?

We know how to care for each other.

Even when someone is not like us.

Especially when they are not like us.

Because guess what?


They are us.

We are them.

Heart and soul connects us.

Lived experience connects us.

Not our neighborhoods.

Not because we spin at the same studio.

I’m urgently asking you to look deeper into the why.

And then from this place of open-hearted, empathetic intelligence, ask yourself again:


Why people are protesting

Why you’re being asked to amplify Black voices

Why we don’t care about pictures of you going back to “normal life”

Why you spend money where you do

Why you vote for the people you vote for

Why you don’t vote at all

Why you feel defensive

Why you disagree

Why you “just want things to go back to normal”

(What’s normal? And for who?)

Why you put your fear of saying something wrong above standing up for what’s right?

Why do you think saying Black Lives Matter means ONLY Black Lives Matter

Why won’t you publicly say or hashtag “BLACK LIVES MATTER”

Why defunding the police matters in the context of re-funding equity initiatives


I am begging you to sit with this.


November scares me.

You can say, I fear for my life.

You can say, I’m afraid to even start a family because I fear not enough people will stand up, speak up, and protect my rights to freedom and access.

I fear my White friends. They mean well, but many are so damn afraid of messing up and so afraid to jump before they have an instruction manual on how to do so.

They could be the death of me. The death of people who look like me. The death of my son or daughter. Do you hear me when I say that’s how I feel?


If you can understand and express your own pain from the deep well of your individual personhood and struggle, then I know you can understand mine.

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©2019 BY ASHLEY MITCHELL