I am getting to the point in my journey where it’s time to expand my energy outward a little bit and take a peek at what is going on in the world. I have largely isolated myself during this pandemic and have cut myself off from most social media platforms. I haven’t owned a TV in years and mainstream news sources are too biased for my tastes. But, there are things happening in the world that need to be addressed.
Full disclosure, I am a white woman from a middle class upbringing.
I knew racism existed but like so many of the people I have talked to I just assumed if I didn’t have an issue with people of color then I wasn’t racist. Nice and tidy and in a cute little package. And this meant I didn’t need to speak up or do any work.
I was so wrong.
I did what a lot of us did when I first heard about protests and riots. I jumped on the internet and googled what was going on in the world. The first thing I did was look at Minneapolis. I used to live there. The destruction was intense and broke my heart. The next thing I did was jump on Instagram and see who all the women that I follow were following with reference to POC and I joined their communities. I did what most of us “good white women” were doing. And then I stopped for a second.
I have listened to so many stories and talks by these badass black women and holy smokes, they are mad. And they have every right to be. Their words are brutal and honest and so engagingly beautiful. It was quickly pointed out that all of us white women were doing the same thing, flooding their social media platforms, reaching out for help, giving money. Man, that hurt. I thought I was doing what was good and right and for a second I was mad, I wanted to scream I’m here, I’m open to help and still you are saying it’s not right!
Then I checked myself. I took a deep breath and shut the fuck up and started to listen.
I have a huge capacity for empathy but being the target of racism is something that I know nothing about. I have not even given it much thought and why? Because I lived and grew up and went to school and joined a profession of predominant whiteness. It was not a conscious choice, but it has been my reality. I have black friends, I have dated lots of brown men, I have friends in the LGBTQ community. I am a pretty open person. But in this, I knew nothing.
I heard stories of young black girls seeing cops and feeling unsafe. I heard stories of women being gunned down, dying in their beds at the hands of cops while they were sleeping. I realized I was one of those people who had immediately prioritized destruction of property over the painful reality of the existence of this group of people that I knew largely nothing about.
Ignorance is bliss… and it can also be deadly.
The more I look into white supremacy, racism, white fragility and all of the current buzz words, the more I realize I have no idea what these things really mean. I have never taken the time to unpack them. So I started reading and researching and stopping and listening.
I still don’t know “what to do.” Except to educate myself and know that next steps will unfold the more I learn. And I would encourage others to do the same.
I have never been one to push my beliefs on other people. I firmly believe in everyone following the path that is right for them. But I do encourage educating oneself, thinking critically about the information presented and to put yourself in the shoes of others even for just a second.
I don’t know what it is like to be a black woman in America, but I do know what it is to be a woman. I know what it is to be scared to leave your house or to walk alone at night. I know what is it to feel unseen and unheard and to feel like my presence has no value. I know what it is like to be threatened and I know what it is to hurt.
There is so much yelling and noise in the world. There is so much pain and fear. Pain and fear are things that we can all empathize with.
I don’t know the right actions. I mess stuff up a lot in this space. I try to start conversations and am met with resistance and often quiet my own voice so that it fits with the audience, so I don’t make people uncomfortable. I don’t push people. But I empathize with everyone. I empathize with the distrust that people of color feel with this situation and the discomfort of having the safe spaces they have created invaded by people who may bring in hate and destruction. I empathize with the people rushing to those spaces who think they are doing, and want to do “the right thing.” I empathize with the ones who have lost family members to brutal deaths and I empathize with the cops that are acting appropriately within the confines of that label.
This is what I can do right now. Empathize and educate and realize that all the outrage, the destruction the yelling… these are all people in pain. And as I said many times before, one can not have growth without destruction, without breaking barriers, without challenging beliefs and breaking weak foundation to pour something more solid. We can see people for who they are. We can acknowledge the distrust and fear from black communities and we can shut the hell up and listen so that we can learn. This is being human. This is humanity.
It isn’t about “love and light and everyone getting along.” This situation is about loving fiercely. It is about sitting and thinking instead of reacting when faced with opinions that ruffle your sense of ignorant safety. It is about opening your mind and heart to some of these badass black leaders who are paving the way for change. Love is not a one way street full of joy and mirth. Love takes real work. It takes sustained effort and the willingness to work through limiting beliefs. It takes eating some humble pie and sitting in your heat of embarrassment and shame. And it takes forgiveness and grace and compassion for oneself as you stumble your way to new beliefs.
Love fiercely. Challenge your beliefs. Create new patterns and choose something different. ❤ ❤