Today's blog is definitely not what I had planned. Originally, it was suppose to be a list of my favorite things. However, current events are weighing heavily on my heart and I'm at loss for what I can do. I am overwhelmed, scared for my husband, terrified for my boys and absolutely heartbroken for the Black community. I felt that I needed to be more careful in what I posted. I didn't want to post something frivolous and basically act like I was ignorant of what was going on around me. I felt that there was something more important that I could say.
What's The Deal With 2020?
Lets be honest, 2020 has been an utter and complete shit show. Sorry for the language, but I honestly cannot think of a better way to sum it up. This year we have been dealt one thing after another. If we're not dealing with the negativity in our political atmosphere, then we're dealing with a global pandemic and the loss of beloved popular figures. We've had murder hornets, large numbers of unemployment and basic chaos. I typically don't look at the news in the morning until I'm emotionally ready to handle the vast load of potential crap that I will have to see. People, as a whole, are being mentally, emotionally and financially beaten down.
Just for a recap, here is the short list of events that have occurred in the first five months of 2020:
Soleimani Killed in US Drone Strike
Iran Launches Missiles at American Bases in Iraq
Ukrainian Plane Crashes in Iran Killing 176
First Coronavirus Death in China
Trump Impeachment Trial and Acquittal
Kobe Bryant Crash and Death
Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty
Dow Plunges 2,997, the Worst Since 1987
These are just the stories that have affected everyone. Yet, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd added so many extra stressors to the Black community who were already feeling disproportionate effects from the list above. While these stories made the news cycles, they weren't talked about in detail and now the brutal death of George Floyd is being overshadowed in the news by reports of the riots, looting and destruction. Yet those riots, looting and destruction are a last ditch effort by a marginalized community to get the attention that they so desperately deserve. I'm not saying that it doesn't deserve coverage. I'm saying that now people are more focused on that than the heinous actions that brought them about.
However, let me point out here for those who want to denounce the riots, looting and destruction, it does have a loose historical context. I've seen on twitter where it is being compared to the Boston Tea Party of 1773. While I can see the similarities, I want to make the distinction that the Boston Tea Party was an attack on tea that was basically owned by the British Crown. They did not attack private citizens or the property of private citizens. Yet, the same patriots did attack and destroy the property of those loyal to the Crown. So yeah, a loose historical context. Rioting and property destruction are definitely American, it's the looting that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Again, I'm not saying its right or wrong. I'm not a member of the community so I can't being to speak for them. However, I use to teach political science so I just like people to know facts.
So Why Am I Writing This?
For those who don't know me personally, I'm going to lay it all out there. I'm a white female, wife to a police officer, mother to two biracial boys and a small business owner. While I don't come from money, I'm comfortable. I recognize that my skin color affords me a certain privilege. Not in a sense that I have never suffered but in a way that means that I have had certain advantages that may, or may not, have been obvious to me. I'm a foster parent, I've opened my home to children of all races but to say that I don't see color is ignorant. I see it. I honor it and I value the different opinions and input that results from our differences.
Desmond Tutu is quoted to say that "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." I feel like I may have been neutral in the past. Not so much in feeling but more so in action. I need someone to tell me how to do better. I want to walk forward and help. I want to be a peaceful but strong ally of change but I've always felt stuck because of my different roles.
Racism is real. Before starting my own business, I worked in places where the racism wasn't blatant but it was present and discrete. I have yet to wrap my head around the fact that I will have to take my two boys and have a talk with them as they get older. I will have to look them in the eye and tell them that because of their skin color they will be judged, threatened and potentially accused. I will have to tell them that the white privilege of their parents will one day not be enough to protect them. It breaks my heart because my three year old is literally the sweetest, most empathetic kid I have ever met. Hearing this will absolutely crush him.
I've been in higher education for years. I've worked for programs specifically designed to help marginalized communities have the same access to higher education and resources. I have been educated about racism. I've attempted to proactively confront racism whenever possible. I've read books and gained a decent academic understanding of race and racism but I didn't feel like it really prepared me to help or do anything. I was just an informed white person. Having all this knowledge felt completely useless to me. My drive to promote change was drastically altered when I fell in love with three little boys who were trusted to me in foster care. One now calls me mommy, one went back with his biological mother, and one is still my child while the foster care system allows it. However, these three precious souls made the issues personal for me.
For them, I want to help make change. Yet I feel like I'm stuck. I don't know how to help. I'm the wife of a police officer so that usually excludes me from certain conversations from the start. I can't say that not all police officers are bad without negating the feelings of others. As a business owner, I can't condemn looting without sounding out of touch. But as a mother, I'm starting to say the hell with it all. Where do I start? This isn't about me or my feelings. I don't mind being uncomfortable if that means a better future for my boys but I also don't want to cause more harm than good in my ignorance.
Change starts locally and I could not be more proud of my hometown, Roxboro, NC, of how they came together in protest. There are a lot of communities across the country who are taking powerful stands and are joining with police, city and government officials to make it known that the actions of a few are not the beliefs of many. Lets start that process of change here.
I'll end by saying this to the Black community, I respect you. I will stand with you. Send me information, I will provide it to others. I don't know everything but I will speak up. You want more community awareness? Lets get together and figure out a plan action. I plan to stand neutral no longer.