My friend shared this quote yesterday from writer and activist Audre Lorde and it’s been haunting me ever since. There is no rest for the weary when it comes to our hurting world. I am constantly thinking and praying and hurting and fearing. Constantly looking at my children and wondering if I’m doing enough, teaching enough, being enough. Constantly wondering if their future will look different. If they will have the opportunity to navigate a culture of peace and progress.
Some days it feels like we will never escape the torment. Hatred and racism and brutality seem to have become the norm in our world. They fill our newsfeeds and crush our hearts. Burn our souls and overwhelm us with rage. But then sometimes I wonder, is that just me? Am I one of many white allies or is my voice only heard by my friends and colleagues of color? Do the rest of you even feel the urgency of this issue? Do you care?
The thing is, my fears, my pain, my worries for the future and for my children, while valid, are not shared by many of the mothers and fathers and friends I have come to know and love. They have a different level of fear and pain and worry that I will never experience. Why? Because they are black. Because their children are black. I don’t ever have to fear my child being murdered because of their skin color. I don’t ever have to feel that anguish. Why? Because I am white. Because my children are white. And because we were born into privilege and with that came a freedom for life and living too many of us take for granted.
Yesterday another black man was senselessly murdered. And then overnight while I tried to sleep away my fears for our nation, ANOTHER shooting happened. Those of privilege will try to justify them just like they do all the others. They will dismiss the reasons these deaths haunt my friends of color. They will ignore the plea that #blacklivesmatter. They will deny that racism is at play and go about their lives unscathed. Some problems we share, some we do not. That’s the epitome of privilege at play. You think something isn’t a problem because it isn’t a problem to you personally. You turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.
So today and everyday I want my black friends to know, I see you. I will never know the depths of your despair, but I am here. I wish I had words of comfort. It makes me sick that this is your reality. That you have to sit with these fears and feel what you feel about the value of you or your child’s life. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But please know I will never turn my back on the reasons you are dying. I will listen to your pain and learn from you. I will walk along side you, using my voice everyday in every possible way to create dialogue and enact change.
And to my white friends, I encourage you to unpack your biases. Examine your beliefs. Challenge yourself and others, but more than anything use your privilege. You have a voice with power and influence. A voice the oppressed don’t have. We have to join the fight because it will never be won without the collective. And finally, to my friends with children. Raise them rad. Raise them good. Don’t shelter them from the sufferings of our world. As they grow and ask questions, mold their minds and foster their spirits to show love and give compassion. Plant the seeds to continue a movement that can change the world.