Friday, July 08, 2016
Next Time: Do SOMETHING
No spotlight today, but hopefully next week.
Instead, and in light of recent events, I want to share something that happened to me earlier this week. Something that was bad enough at the time, but now feels like a huge wake up call.
On Monday, yes the 4th of July, we celebrated with in the morning with our local community. There is a lovely parade in our neighborhood every year for the 4th which culminates in a cul-de-sac block party with hot dogs, baked goods, and even games like a waterballoon toss and cup stacking. Standing there reveling in our small town-y patriotic goodness, with my beautiful family, talking with neighbors and watching the good natured games, I heard it.
"Just let the coon win."
See, one of the games was down to the final few players, one team consisting of a black man and a black woman. You guys, a freaking neighborhood waterballoon toss and I hear this disgusting, degrading and racist comment and I am floored.
I looked to my left and there was a group of 5 teenage boys. Excuse me, a group of 5 WHITE teenage boys. And one of them standing in the back had quietly whispered this "joke" (or maybe outright racist epithet) to one of his buddies.
But not quiet enough because I HEARD IT.
And I stood there frozen. And angry. I shot him looks that he didn't turn to see and I turned to my husband to tell him what I just heard. And I just stood there.
Do I call him out in front of his friends? What if I say something and this escalates into a big deal? What if he gets angry or what if someone else hears? What if he and his friends know where we live and target my family for calling him out?
I just stood there. I couldn't focus or think about anything else the rest of the event. I was angry, I wanted to say something but what? In the end, we left and I didn't say a word.
And then this week 2 more black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police officers for no reason at all. That's not true, they were killed because they were black.
And I am reminded of this quote by Edmund Burke:
This is my public vow to you today that I will never stand by and do NOTHING again.
I am ashamed that I worried about being uncomfortable or feeling afraid. I have the privilege of never having to think about race or feeling fearful because of my race. Black people live in fear for their lives because of the color of their skin and I was worried about being uncomfortable? Maybe you've been in a similar situation, I hope like me you will reconsider your discomfort.
Like so many of you I don't really know what to do. But I'm starting by speaking up, sharing my story and listening. If you too want to listen or are not sure what to do here are some links to get started. Also, I found this post from DesignMom helpful and enlightening:
White privilege explained. It doesn't mean you don't have any problems or that you're rich just because you're white.
How to use your white privilege
Brandi Riley--quit talking to your children and talk to the white men in your lives
Advice for White Folks in the Wake of a Police Murder of a Black Person
How to research and support your cities police accountabilities procedures
**As I was putting this post together (Thursday evening) I just read that multiple police officers in Dallas were shot and killed at a protest. More bloodshed, more senseless violence. Retaliation and violence is never the answer. I am very much support and feel grateful for the thousands of good police officers who put their life on the line everyday. Though it should go without saying, I want to make it clear that supporting #blacklivesmatter is NOT a support for the killing and endangering our police officers. Honestly, where would we as a country be without the good men and women who put their lives on the line everyday? I wanted to share this important and timely story, but I don't want to cause any division. I'm not even sure what to say anymore, but let each of us take it upon ourselves to be sources of love and light.