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Looking for a light?

June Wellness Check-in from Mixolo founder, Carolyn Walton Lynch

“If everything around you is dark, look again, you may be the light.” - Rumi

Above the clouds shot with sunshine
When stock photos work....

I can’t begin to know how any of you are experiencing or internalizing the events of the past few months, particularly those of late that have sparked protests and unrest all over the world.

While each of us may have a unique perspective on the current events and how change should occur, we are moving in a more united way to ensure that racism and marginalization are no longer the go-to law and social order strategies - and we’ve made some baby steps to a world where we co-exist with COVID-19 with less devastating consequences.

The anxiety is real. Don’t get it twisted.

Last Tuesday was a milestone birthday for me and it coincided with a nationwide movement on social media, #blackouttuesday, that was embraced by many and met with suspicion by many - because America... That's just who we are.

I woke up feeling that I could not in good conscience celebrate my 60th birthday while dark clouds of political and civil unrest were enveloping everyone I know and care about, all under the watchful pink-eye of that COVID-19 virus.

This is not your standard anti-racism pronouncement:

I was genuinely moved by many of the heartfelt messages flooding my email inboxes from business leaders expressing their support for equality and human dignity, specifically black lives in America, after the latest deaths of black men and women involving members of law enforcement. Many of the businesses and organizations speaking out have historically denied harboring conscious or unconscious bias in their engagement and treatment of job applicants, employees, business partners, or customers.

The words “diversity” and “inclusion” are often filler words for strategic marketing. Some of the messages are coming from organizations that you only need Google their leadership and staff see that their words are empty; however, it must be noted that the specious “we don’t see color” statement has evolved into a full-on acknowledgment of the institutionalized injustices affecting people of color with specific statements of action. The world is watching.

Mixolo members
When you don't need stock photos...or a pronouncement.

While this time seems different and many are speaking out for the first time about their conscious or unconscious bias, I have been slow to react and issue any statement.

The Mixolo mission has always been about inclusion and respect for others. So, I’m thinking my lifelong devotion to removing barriers and righting injustices is not something I feel I need to avow in a special message, right? Then the friendlier inner voices that I have developed during quarantine whispered, “What say you?”

By the way, I’m Black:

While I fancy myself a human first, you probably already know that I am African American. Other than pictures I’ve shared, I don’t think I have ever felt the need to state that inescapable fact to my Mixolo team. It’s one of my many identities and often the most problematic as I have navigated the world. I am descended from slaves and my ancestors and I have lived and survived, against seemingly insurmountable odds, our unique American history – a history we all share that has often been adjusted to be more, well, palatable.

I don’t like to admit that that one of the reasons I haven’t engaged in more direct anti-racism language in my content is because, as part of my experience, I have internalized the need to deflect from my race out of fear of dismissal when I discuss aggressions or fear of exclusion when it comes to attracting a diverse membership, hosts, and potential investors. Seeing and hearing non-black friends, colleagues, prominent business leaders, and other dignitaries publicly acknowledge the systemic obstacles and inherent bias in the “I don’t see color,” or more broadly, “I don’t see differences,” stance, has felt like a sort of deliverance from those limiting fears.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a moral reconciliation of the truths we choose to embrace is at hand. It’s going to be hard. Need a bit of courage to see you through? Look for inspiration in the history of black Americans and their phenomenal resiliency.

You and I are already at work – albeit through play:

When it comes to matters of racism, and other limiting ‘isms, I am proud to say our Mixolo community is a curious, open-hearted group of humans. So far, we’ve learned that one can find common ground with anyone regardless of age, gender, creed, color, religion, sexuality…if they are open to bypassing the fear and judgment phase. I set out to program inherent bias out of the Mixolo social experience.

We all carry some biases. We do in fact see color and many other attributes of our fellow humans and we process that information in a way that supports our belief systems. Belief systems are hard to change, but they do evolve.

Mixolo removes the opportunity for us to pre-judge our fellow adventurers and it has been nothing short of revolutionary. Meeting strangers while pursuing the things we love or are curious about challenges our beliefs and humanizes others, creating a safe space for respectful and meaningful engagement.

Back to the low key birthday:

As I was grappling with the overwhelming emotions of the tragic events that were unfolding, my adult children insisted that there was much to celebrate. We are better humans in so many ways, but there is still work to be done.

My low key birthday celebration was the most memorable ever! My son and his significant other insisted on a takeout dinner outdoors on my deck that was incredible (support your local restaurants) and my daughter and he planned a surprise virtual party with family and friends that included a slide show covering every decade of my existence. I was jolted into a place of gratitude and remembrance that my journey so far has been meaningful, even the obstacles. It was the first time I had cried in months as most days (these days) I am forced to compartmentalize any emotional distress to maintain a sense of wellbeing.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now. Change is hard. Change is messy. Change is sometimes dark. Take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and give thanks that you possess the capacity to be an agent of change. You are a light. Shine on.

I recently had the opportunity to tell my story to podcaster and champion for women, Lauren Ashgari ,founder, Alderson Loop marketing firm, for her How’d her Career Get There series. Fun fact: the recording is the second take of my interview because I felt the first was too revealing. I realized many of my life and career decisions were made navigating racism, sexism, and lately, ageism. What 50 something has a startup for a social app?? What I learned as I was failing in my attempt to edit my story for outward appearances is that I could not tell my story authentically without being grounded in my truth. My decision NOT to stay in any particular lane has everything to do with my life experience. You can listen here.

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