Being a contribution

+ who are your favorite Black creators?

Hi Artists,

I know you might not want to post about your art project right now, much less do it. That’s okay. I hope that you are taking care of yourself and your communities. And I truly believe that art is healing and that the work we do at the individual level is always worthwhile. There is nothing shameful about putting in effort to be a fully realized human being. Now is the time to take action.

So how can we put our efforts to good use? How can we show that Black Lives Matter isn’t just something we say, but something we do?

There’s a concept in one of my favorite personal development books, The Art of Possibility, called “being a contribution.” The idea is this:

“Declare yourself to be a contribution, and throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why.”

Being a contribution means that your focus is not on whether or not you’re a good person or what you’re doing is right – it’s not about you – but whether or not you are taking action to contribute to the greater good and the wellbeing of others.

Here are a few of the things I’m doing. I invite you to join me, but more importantly to reflect and act in a way that is personal and appropriate for you and your community – not because someone told you it was the right way, but because you know it in your heart what is right and what you are capable of contributing.

  • I realized recently that I didn’t have a single Black teacher until college. How old were you when you had your first Black teacher? How might that have influenced your education? What were the perspectives of the people teaching you, and how might you have taken them on? Some friends and I are doing a Black author appreciation book club (you can join us here). Our book this month is Saeed Jones’ How We Fight for Our Lives.

  • Are you also a big reader? Here’s an anti-racist reading list and here’s a spreadsheet of Black-owned book stores.

  • Do your due diligence before posting content. Consider what narratives you might be perpetuating. Consider the violence of passive language – notice the difference between “tear gas canisters were deployed” and “police tear gassed protestors.” Pay attention.

  • Similarly, before contributing to or promoting a non-profit, do a little research. Do the people who work there – particularly in leadership positions – reflect the identities of the people they claim to serve?

  • Contribute to individuals, not just organizations. People need cash.

  • Don’t let people whitewash the words of MLK and other Black leaders. Push back when someone says all lives matter.

  • Audit who you follow on social. Follow more Black creators, more queer creators, more women, more folks whose identities are so rarely seen on the walls of museums or in the bylines of major newspapers.

On that note, I hope that we as a community can help amplify Black voices. Who are your favorite Black creators? Post in the comments and I’ll share a follow up email later this week.

How will you be a contribution?