Encouragement,Featured

stop. pause. listen.

{This is long, I debated posting anything at all, and even as I post it, I know I’m not covering everything and most likely won’t be able to. But it’s a start 🙏}

I first want to say I am not anti-police or anti-protesting. I am a white, privileged female & understand my privilege, as I am able to sit here in the comfort of my suburban apartment. I also acknowledge I have a lot of work to do myself, speaking up & always learning.

I’m still trying to gather thoughts, feelings, words…

I am a slow processor, been dealing with my own set of grief, & I feel like I’ve been in a fog the last few days. I’m disgusted, disheartened, overwhelmed, & just sad. I don’t feel like I have any answers to fix anything quickly. I’m a very right/wrong type of person, but I also live in a sea of gray.

If I say the looting & arson are wrong, then is that my white privilege speaking or my tendency to explicitly point out what’s right & wrong? Looting & arson are wrong. Period. BUT I’ve also never had to fight & protect myself or others because of my skin color. I can’t imagine the anger & frustration my black friends & family are feeling. It’s only been a few days & I’m exhausted. I can’t imagine how tired you are.

I can’t believe it’s the year 2020 and we are still here. 

However, sadly, a part of me can because this isn’t a surface issue. It isn’t just a black & white issue, literally & figuratively. It is a much deeper issue, rooted in a system & constructive way of thinking that has been around for many, many years, that we don’t even “see” anymore because that’s just how things have always been.

I may personally think some of the destructive acts are “not right,” but I can’t criticize based on what I haven’t personally experienced. I’ve always said you can’t be punished for what you’ve experienced, but you also can’t be punished for what you haven’t. It’s how I felt when people had opinions about my decisions or actions as a widow when none of those people had experienced what I had. So I can’t judge or criticize what others are doing now because of their personal experiences. I will never know what it’s like to be a black person. I can’t be blamed or punished for that, but I also can’t try to claim I know what it’s like to be a black person. I don’t have that right to cast judgment. Period.

Ultimately, though, I think the 2 extremes – making a bunch of noise/burning down physical buildings/stealing & being completely silent – are NOT the solutions. Hear me out… Have you ever been in an argument with a friend or partner & it escalates to just a screaming match? Is that productive? No. I understand the need to have your voice heard & get the attention that’s needed. But also think about it this way (a very different scenario, but a simple analogy)… Have you ever had a child or student act out in class or at home? Aren’t they usually acting out to get your attention? If you yell & scream back at them, does that really solve the root of the problem? No. Ultimately, they just want to be heard, they want to be seen, & they want to be understood.

Stop.

Pause.

Listen.

Truly listen. Actively listen. What is the problem? What are they feeling? What can be done to help? How can you help them & be a better ally?

Listen, then take action.

You may feel like you need to get out there & protest with your fellow black friends, family, & community. And if you do & are able, I say go for it & only ask to please be safe. If you are not able but still want to help & take action, you can still do so by taking small, but very powerful actions in your everyday. In fact, I would argue this is where the real change happens. This is what we ALL need to do. This is starting at the root & not just topically addressing the weed. It’s pulling the whole damn root system out. One weed at a time.

We don’t need to be burning down buildings. We need to be burning down the system. Deconstructing the policies and long-time invisible “rules” that have continued generation after generation.

It starts in your workplace.

It starts in your church.

It starts in your schools.

It starts in your friend circles.

It starts with your extended family.

It starts in your own home.

It starts with small, difficult, uncomfortable conversations. It starts with listening & learning. It starts with passion, fight, understanding, compassion, & love.

I don’t have a quick fix or easy solution. There isn’t one. This is a longstanding, deeply rooted issue that is going to take a lot of hard work, time, & effort on EVERYONE’S part. We are now at the point in this where being “not racist” isn’t enough. We have to actively be “anti-racist” for our black friends, family, & community. ❤