What do I do?
After days of protests, and though I knew of what had happened, I insulated myself from the heartache… I WANTED to remain ignorant. My heart hurt already.
A lovely friend and sister in Christ who is also a POC, had reached out to me over the weekend. She reminded me of her son and her husband…a beautiful young boy, a wonderful man…and what happened to Ahmaud, George, and Breonna could have been/still could be, them.
My heart hurt even more. I cried in my shower. I prayed for black lives.
I watched video and live feed of the protests. I cried some more.
Why am I crying?
Because Ahmaud didn’t have to die.
Because Breonna didn’t have to die.
Because George didn’t have to die.
Because I do not want Jonah or Dontrell or Carter or MJ or Patrick or Duke or Jeremy or Rollin or Patrick or their wives or mamas to have to live with this fear.
Because I know how I was raised, yeah…racism is insidious.
Because I have a grandchild and one on the way and this is not the world divided that I want them to have to face.
My first awareness of racism started in an elementary school in Florida. We were learning about slavery. The black students began saying some hateful things about white kids at lunch. I stood up and proclaimed my northern state of birth and hid in the bathroom until lunch was over. Division had begun…I was fearful. [Perhaps we should review how we teach about this topic…but that was in the ‘70s and I hope it is done better now]
When my family moved back to Indiana from Florida, what eventually became my high school had a rather significant number of black students in comparison to my previous schools. For whatever reason, a few of the young black men were attracted to me and tried to persuade me to talk to them/date them. I was not interested. (My upbringing had me fearful of the wrath of family members if I dated a POC…any color other than white) In the halls, the young black girls called me a slut and other hateful things. I’d never had a boyfriend…yet they called me a slut. Why?
At the same school, I recall a day when there was a “riot” – which simply looked like all of the black students running around the school…not sure what it was about, or what the message was…it was brief and things returned to normal school day activity pretty quickly. I never thought to find out why.
Out of school, I began working with some black women…wonderful women…while I was pregnant with my first child. Shortly after her birth, after my 4 – midnight shift one night, outside of work, I was taken captive and I was raped by a black man I did not know. Two of those black women quit their jobs over this…I stayed. Later that year, now on the day shift, while entering the building, a young black man came running at me and stole my purse He got a quarter, my lunch and my keys. My employers decided to hire security during shift changes. I eventually left that job. My rapist was found and arrested and charged within days. It took two years for him to be put in prison. I walked around afraid all the time. He knew my name.
The result of this: An awareness that I should be afraid of black men. That I needed to avoid being seen by black men.
My interactions with black women continued to be positive and wonderful.
Flash forward, my heart began to heal. I began to refuse to live afraid of the night, or of black men. I found my faith. That is where I learned that there is an enemy, the enemy is not racist…he wants us all. The same is true of Jesus.
I started to realize that evil does not live in the color of someone’s skin + their biological sex. It is a seed planted in the heart and everyone’s heart is the same color. That seed can be watered and fertilized a million ways and it is the responsibility of the bearer of that heart to tend to what grows there.
Pay attention to the seed, you may not know it is there.
So…I started this post with a question: What do I do?
In a conversation this weekend, my sister that reached out shared with me her thoughts about people speaking about diversity…that was a profound moment for me. It hit me hard. It is not about diversity today. We need SPECIFICITY. This is a conversation about SPECIFICITY. This moment in time is about a SPECIFIC group of people, black people.
Adding diversity to the conversation is akin to adding ridiculous regulations and laws into an important bill in congress and though, if passed, we might get the initial thing we want from that bill, the mess included inside of it does not help the issue at hand and can sometimes create more problems. (Politics isn’t my strong suit…so forgive me for any inaccuracies)
So…what do I do? I need to know how to be an ally.
Specificity. Focus on THE problem.