Have you been at a loss of what to say the past couple of weeks… months? Feeling like you should say something, but not sure what to say? So you say nothing because whatever you could say wouldn’t be enough.
It’s like when you know someone who just had the closest person to them die and you don’t know what to say or do. Do you call to check in on them? If you do, should you ask how they are doing because you don’t want to make them sad? Typically you opt for nothing because nothing you could say or do could help.
That’s how I’ve been the past few weeks. I’m at a loss. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to add more hurt, more anger, more pain. But I also don’t want to ignore the obvious. I’m a little over it and yet just starting to get into it. I’m numb and I’m pissed off. I’m stunned and in total disbelief.
What is happening?! This isn't OK.
The things I’m reading on social media make me want to throw my phone. The news channels are just so ridiculous with their coverage. Where is the truth?
Here is some truth: Philando Castile killed. Alton Sterling killed. Akiel Denkins killed. Walter Scott killed. Laquand McDonald killed. Samuel Dubose killed. Akai Gurley killed. Jamar Clark killed. Brendon Glenn killed. Christian Taylor killed. Corey Jones killed. (All black, all killed by cops.)
I’ve said nothing because I knew I had nothing to say.
Well I have something to say now: I’m a racist + I’m part of the problem.
Cops aren’t the problem. Donald Trump isn’t even the problem. I am the problem.
At the risk of you clicking the X on this page, let me add that you are likely the problem too.
How do I know I’m a racist?
Because when I see a black man passing me while running errands with my girls I grab them closer to me and put myself between them and him. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
Because when I see a black man with clothes I would ignorantly assume are part of his gang’s attire (I am such an idiot), I would grab a hold of my purse extra tight instead of it casually slung on my elbow. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
Because when I am the minority in a group of black women I feel insecure. I notice their color and mine. I don’t know how to relate. I don't talk or laugh or dress like they do and that make me feel uncomfortable. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
Because when I run into a gas station and the guy in front of me has teeth covered in gold on purpose, I flip my engagement ring upside down so he doesn’t try to steal it. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
Because I feel uncomfortable when a table full of black people laughing loud at a table next to me makes me feel uncomfortable or even annoyed because of how freely they express themselves. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
Because when I see a young black woman not even in her 20s holding a baby on her hip, I think a thought of judgment and not compassion. I'm a racist + I'm part of the problem.
My head is a disgusting and dirty place and I didn't even realize it until the past couple of weeks. I honestly thought I wasn't like so many of the other racists I am surrounded by, especially here in the south. I am so very ignorant. I was numb to my own racism while I claimed to love all people and be color blind.
That is racism. I don’t know how Webster’s Dictionary defines it and I don’t need to.
Too honest? Well, it’s true. If I’m guessing, I’m not alone.
Have you felt the same feelings? You hate to admit how many times you've thought things you wouldn't admit out loud to even your closest friend.
I know what comes next, I've heard all the rebuttals on Facebook-- #bluelivesmatter too. Some of those men had it coming, I know not all, but some of them did. Why did he even have gun in the first place? He shouldn't have robbed that place. Well, did you know he had been smoking pot that day? Those cops were just doing their job as best they could.
That's not true and it should be insulting to every cop that carries their badge and their gun with honor, and I'd assume that's most cops.
Listen not all cops are bad, in fact, most aren’t bad. Most are protecting the freedom we take for granted every single day.
They lay their lives on the line for us more than we could ever possibly know. They are heroes and their lives matter. I agree with all the Facebook posting that we need to reform the cops and how they profile. Agreed. We can’t deny the facts that it happens. It just does. So many things about so many parts of our governmental systems need some major overhaul.
However, even more than we need to better educate our cops, we need to better educate ourselves. Somewhere along the way those cops that shot the men above had a mom or a neighbor or a teacher or, as sick as it might be, a preacher, reinforce racism.
The ignorance must stop.
Repeating whatever sound bites you’ve heard your conservative podcaster/radio host/news correspondent say makes you an idiot not an expert. You know that right? Those people are saying things to drive ratings. Ask anyone in news. They want to get you angry and it’s worked. And your comments aren't intellectual they are regurgitated from your local news anchor who read from a teleprompter. If I'm guessing most of what some of you are saying on Facebook you'd never once say to a black persons face.
You are angry that cops got shot. You should be. But you know what? Black lives still matter because all lives matter.
You can still be for cops and for blacks.
You can still be for unborn babies and women who have had abortions.
You can still be for transgenders and conservative politicians.
You should be for all people.
We fear what we don’t know because we are much more comfortable in our little bubble.
We are much more justified and cheered on in our own little bubble. It’s easy not to feel like a racist in our bubble because everyone else thinks just like us.
If you’ve ever been within 5 feet of someone who didn’t look like you and you felt anxiety then chances are you might be a racist too.
We don’t need to fear admitting that we are racist.
Admitting this to myself this past week and now to you is humiliating and yet really freeing. It’s out there. I can’t deny it any longer.
We also can’t stay there; we must take one more step. If our ignorance is causing our racism then we must educate ourselves.
To get a true education you must go to the places that feel uncomfortable and have the conversations that you feel might be offensive with the only people who can actually tell you the truth.
It can go a little something like this: “I’m sorry, what I’m about to say is going to come off so ignorant because I am and I don’t want to be. Will you help me understand this? Is it true? Is it worse than what I’m seeing? Has this been going on for a long time and I didn’t even know? How has this affected you?...”
You know how I know your questions will be received? Because those who believe #blacklivesmatter also believe #whitelivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #alllivesmatter.
#blacklivesmatter didn't start as a war against the police but from a group of people who need us to know that their lives matter. If a campaign has started for their lives mattering it means they feel that we don't believe their lives matter.
This isn't OK. No one should feel that way ever.
The goal of all of this is unity, understanding, respect, love and peace.
Our world it a hurting place and I honestly don’t think it’s going to get a lot better. However, we can be better and we can love those around us better.
We started this blog post with the analogy of how we deal with someone who has just lost the closest person to them. You know what I hear the most from those that have lost someone? They wish we would talk about their mom/dad/daughter/wife/friend because that would mean they lived a life that mattered. They wish instead of advice or fluffy verses, we just sat with them and cried instead. They wish instead of another flippant text of “let me know if you need anything” that we would just drop off steak (because enough with the casseroles and chicken) and a good bottle of wine. They want to still feel human and they hurt over what’s happened. Ignoring their reality doesn’t make it any less real; it just leaves the weight of it all on them.
start today: Instead of fearing what we don’t know, embrace it.