Educate, Show Up, and Choose Love

Notes on the past few weeks.

 

Shock. Disgust. Sadness. Monumental grief.

The past few months have been some of the saddest I can remember.

The hate crime at Pulse nightclub in Orlando was gut wrenching, as was the death of Alton Sterling.

And then Philando Castile, in my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Four bullets. Four of them.

A four year old in the backseat.

WHY????

"Its ok mommy... I'm right here with you!" says a four year old girl who's life is forever changed.

An innocent young girl who has been thrust into adult level trauma. What about her mother? Will her mother be able to function normally after this horrific event? Can one balance self-care and grief with the responsibility of raising and caring for a young child?

I've been sitting on this post since last week. Adding bits and pieces here and there. I didn't and still don't know what to say or how to say it. 

Something that opened my eyes was learning that an African American friend of mine is afraid to drive here in Nashville at night.  AFRAID TO DRIVE. AT NIGHT. In 2016.

THAT IS SO GROSS!

Another friend of mine doesn't like the fourth of July, because he doesn't feel like he has the same freedom as an American who has white skin. He feels that no matter how 'good' of a person you are, even if you stick to a certain set of 'rules' you could lose your life.

I hate this. I am embarrassed. It appears I have been rather ignorant, or at least not paid much attention to these issues in my community.

And then Dallas. Horrific. Terrible. Felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Senseless. Police officers killed in the line of duty.

Being a police office is a job, something people choose to do, for 40 - 50 hours a week.

Having black skin is not a choice and it is 24/7 365 days a year.

A report on NPR this morning stated that that from the time Philando Castile turned 19 to his last traffic stop on July 6th at age 32, Castile has been pulled over 46 times and was charged about $6,000 in fines. His license was revoked and reinstated over and over again.  The fines ranged from $150 to $270, and they added up quickly.

As a cafeteria worker, I have to imagine it would be difficult to chose whether to pay for rent or food, for car insurance to be able to drive to work, or for the fine to reinstate his license. It would be hard to climb out of this situation. Worth noting is this excerpt; "Another curious statistic: Of all of the stops, only six of them were things a police officer would notice from outside a car — things like speeding or having a busted muffler."

This situation is just one out of so many people who have been unjustly targeted, just because they are black.

I watched the memorial service on Tuesday (7/12) and tried to type out bits of President Obama's speech that stuck with me; you can read his whole speech here. I highly recommend it!

"As a society, we choose to under-invest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs.

We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.

We ask the police too much and of our selves too little. 

And then we tell the police, “You’re a social worker; you’re the parent; you’re the teacher; you’re the drug counselor.” We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience; don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own peace of mind. And then we feign surprise when periodically the tensions boil over."

All of It - Never stop talking it - Maya Angelou

I am devastated about all of the killing and violence and injustice.

I am so sad and sickened at the loftiness with which we treat other's lives with.

I want to share sadness and my yearning for change, and hey, don't you too? Why is our world like this?? What do you know that you can share with me to help me understand what I can do to facilitate change?

I want to talk about these things and I am so annoyed at people who have been uncomfortable with these conversations since the events of last week unfolded.

I wish I had more eloquent words to share. Even more, I wish I had knowledge and understanding of how we can change things.

My takeaways:

  • We need to do more listening than posting opinions and blaming victims
  • STOP saying 'All Lives Matter'. It is evident that they don't.
  • SHOW UP. We need to use our privilege, of being born with white skin to bolster support for our black friends. Nashville friends here is our chapter of SURJ - Showing Up for Racial Justice.
  • EDUCATE YOURSELF. Get uncomfortable. The work that needs to be done is more important than how we feel about doing it.
  • CHOOSE LOVE.

Here is a collection of things that people have written or recorded that have resonated with me:

Last night right before I left for a trail run, I noticed a post that read, '10 dead in Nice, France'. By the time I got home, the number of dead rose to 70. This morning the total was 85 dead and 50 people teetering a fine balance between life and death. I was already planning to conclude this post with the quote below, before the tragedy unfolded. I think the message fits this horrific event too.

Love to you and yours.

All of It - Love over Fear