Have you ever had so much to say, you struggle to find words? It’s been five+ weeks since George Floyd’s death, and I think about him every day. A lot.
I’ve cried, I’ve expressed outrage and fury, dipped into hopelessness, and felt the hot, searing desire to punish. I’ve read countless articles and poignant Facebook posts from Black Americans who have been generous enough to share their experience. I’ve watched powerful videos, vulnerable in both their honesty and their anger, from Black women telling it like it is.
I’ve wrestled with my right to speak out on this topic, as a white woman steeped in privilege.
In the last few weeks, I’ve started four separate blog posts, in an attempt to share my feelings and my perspective. I’ve wrestled with my right to speak out on this topic, as a white woman steeped in privilege. But the deeper truth is my inability to stay silent.
Let me start with where I am now. I’m heart-broken, and I’m hopeful.
My heartbreak is a result of my commitment to feel deeply about what Black men, women and children deal with every day in this country. It is horrific, unjust and cruel.
At the same time, I am more hopeful than I’ve ever been, because I genuinely believe there is no going back from this issue. Once in a while, something so devastating breaks through the noise, captures our collective attention and demands our action.
Once in a while, something so devastating breaks through the noise, captures our collective attention and demands our action.
The video of Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling nonchalantly on the neck of George Floyd as he begs for his life and ultimately dies, is such shockingly disturbing footage, it forces our attention to an issue that has been going on for centuries. We cannot look away. There is no comfort in hiding from it. Thankfully, we cannot un-ring that bell.
The truth is, I’ve been a bit of a closet anti-racist. The people closest to me know this is the central social issue I care most about. I genuinely believe it is the lynchpin to everything that ails this country. I’ve been educating myself, reading about it, praying about it, and regularly taking time to specifically visualize the healing I desire for the deep wounds we bear as a nation.
But the “closet” part is a symptom of what is still unhealed in me: my guilt, my feelings of powerlessness, and my fears of making a big mistake out of my ignorance.
I worry that if I say I pray about it, I will be attacked, as I was on Facebook by a white woman who screamed at me in CAPS that my prayers were irrelevant. Or I fear I have no right to voice outrage, as someone who has clearly benefitted from white privilege, and somehow hasn’t “done enough” as an activist.
But here’s the thing— showing myself and speaking out on this topic is too important to let my ego shut me up. If I say something stupid and embarrassingly privileged, so be it. I am completely available to be corrected, to apologize and to grow. I refuse to be muzzled on this issue.
So today, I am issuing an invitation.
To the white friends, colleagues and readers who may be feeling similarly reluctant, let’s support each other to be willing to sometimes get it wrong in our passion to support what is right.
I have been your ally, and I am now moving into being your accomplice.
And to the BIPOC friends, colleagues and readers, I want to come out of the closet and let you know that I have been your ally, and I am now moving into being your accomplice.
This is new language for me, but I’ve been reading about this distinction, and the action it implies.
With each week that passes since the Memorial Day when George Floyd perished, it’s easy to let our passion wane, as life’s many demands pull our attention. But I will not be diverting mine. This is the first in a series of posts I plan to publish in the weeks ahead. I want to share my journey, and also my suggestions about how we can move through these times powerfully, and bring our magic to the healing task before us.
We are heading into the Fourth of July weekend tomorrow. I know a lot of people who are so disgusted with this country, they don’t even want to give it attention. But I plan to embrace the day by deepening my commitment to freedom and human rights.
America likes to imagine itself as a “leader of the free world.” This is our opportunity to do just that.
We have a very ugly past. There are many who want to sweep it under the rug and say, “That was the past. A different time with different standards. Let’s move on.”
But it is precisely because our past is so ugly that we have a profound opportunity before us. America likes to imagine itself as a “leader of the free world.” This is our opportunity to do just that.
This is my vision of how America can truly express Greatness. It is the essential triumph (victory of character) of our Great Story as a nation. And just like the process of change I’ve been teaching for twenty-five years, it all comes down to Recognize, Acknowledge, Forgive and Change.
Do we have the courage to turn and honestly face this ugliest aspect of ourselves– the brutal enslavement of a race of people for profit, followed by the systematic enforcement of racist policies, injustices, mass incarcerations and outright murder? Can we grieve and feel remorse, ask for forgiveness and receive it? Can we figure out reparations, and reform the racist policies that keep Black Americans disadvantaged?
These are the questions on the table. They are scary as hell to face, but the healing has the potential to not only fulfill the promise of our founding vision, but also make maps for a whole new paradigm of reality.
This is the vision I will be holding this Fourth of July. I ask you to hold this with me.
Let’s extend one another extreme kindness, compassion and understanding as we venture together into the unknown. We can do this.