The tragedies of this week have burned themselves deep into my heart for a lot of reasons. I won't forget this week.
I am beyond heart broken over the lost lives in Dallas. As my husband and I read through and watched videos, the tears didn't stop coming, the anger didn't stop fuming. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." The deaths in Dallas were evil, violent, unjustifiable, and not okay. The deaths of Alton and Philando were evil, violent, unjustifiable, and not okay. Hear that, will you? I cried and I wept over the deaths of those officers late into my already sleepless night. I have been praying for officers I know and their families. I do not hate officers, nor do I wish harm upon any of them. I am pro-human.
But to wake up yesterday and scroll through posts and posts of friends who are justifiably angry and outraged over the Dallas shooting who were extremely silent the day before when two black men were unjustifiably murdered? That has hit me on a layer of my heart that I did not see coming.
Our son is part of this community and we will celebrate his blackness. My friend Eva posted this and it was exactly what I am processing: "Over the past 24 hours, a few of you have reached out to personally send some love and for that I am grateful. A few of you, through comments, expressed sentiments that I don't agree with, and I am grateful for you as well. I feel like it is better to at least engage, have conversation, than to keep silent. A lot of you, many of whom I consider close friends, have been eerily silent. It is interesting and telling. I am not claiming to know what is in your heart, but sometimes silence is not the answer, and can appear as neutrality."
It's hard not to take it personal: Mama Bear is fierce. I know it's only been 6 months of really learning, but it's 6 months of my eyes being opened wider than ever.
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Stacy Curtis, white mama of black children, said: "The issue is so big, so complicated, intricate and deep. The topic so sensitive, where does one even begin? This is what has held me back for the last year and a half. This issue is so incredibly divisive you can't speak on the topic without ruffling someone's feathers. And yet, there comes a time when standing up for the truth and speaking out becomes more important than not rocking the boat or upsetting people you care about." (Read her post here)
I don't know what to do most of the time. I post too much, I post too little, I post the wrong things, I offend people here, I'm hurt by others...social media is a mess and it has never brought out such an ugly, angry side of me as it did Thursday. But the more people of color I ask about how to respond to these things, the more I hear, "Keep talking, keep asking, keep educating, keep learning, keep diversifying your friendships & community..." to do those things is to love deeper. To recognize that white privilege is indeed very real is heart breaking and humbling, but means we are opening my eyes and heart to others reality. It doesn't mean white people are bad - it simply means there are a lot of things we don't have to think or worry about, while people of color do. Small simple example? The color of most bandaids is classified as nude. Nude does not equal white/beige. Nude is an array of colors. One more very subtle to us white folk and simple example: there were zero people of color on the cakes at Costco when I went to find a cake for our sons adoption finalization party. Just a bunch of white boys and girls. Sage is brown with curly hair, not white with light straight hair.
White privilege is being able to live in oblivion to race, to be invisible to even yourself, to have the space to not even think about your skin color.
My other close friend posted this; it is spot on where my heart is at: "I'll explain real quick...if you or I had a family member fall victim to Cancer and you or I wrote #CancerSucks...nobody would counter that and say#AllDiseasesSuck. If I said #HappyMothersDay on Mothers Day, it'd be a little strange to say #AllParentsMatter as a response. If I say Cancer Sucks...it isn't saying other diseases don't suck. It is bringing awareness to a specific disease that is affecting me that I need help and/or attention with. If I say Happy Mother's Day...it doesn't mean I don't appreciate Fathers...it is me showing appreciation specifically for my mom or mother's in general.#BlackLivesMatter isn't saying your life or any other life doesn't matter. It is saying this Cancer Sucks!! And I/We need help and/or attention!! It is bringing attention to what is hurting. If you have multiple kids, and a child felt forgotten or neglected, it is OK and EXPECTED to single them out and let them know they matter, that you LOVE them. That doesn't mean you don't care about the others. We are all God's children, so when your brothers and sisters are telling you #WeMatter....it'd be better to say yes you do and I LOVE YOU instead of countering it."
Friends, can we put down our defenses and vulnerably try to place ourselves in the shoes of others? It's heart-risky imagining being a cop in the US: how freaking scary right now. It's also heart-risky imagining being [specifically] a black male in the US: how freaking scary. Its uncomfortable to admit there is racism, injustice, cruel meaningless violence. I do not know what it is like to send my husband off fearing for his life day after day, when his job and duty and heart is to protect others. I also can't begin to imagine or understand how emotionally exhausting it must be to wear color on my skin.
But I will keep learning, keep asking ignorant questions, and keep talking. I will pursue more friendships with people of color. I will mess up, a lot. I will and have said stupid things. I so want to learn to love well, especially in the face of tragedy: if I do not love well, what purpose and meaning does my life have?