What do I want to cultivate from this conversation?
- promote improved listening skills
- build a shared sense of heightened compassion
- better understand how racial injustice impacts people of color
- insight action by asking myself “What can I do to serve?”
Where do I stand?
What makes me uneasy is the fact that I’ve stayed quiet – out of fear, mostly – that whatever I say may not be helpful. How can I possibly relate?
My heart breaks for my Black husband, and my Black children and grandchildren, my Black in-laws, Black life-long friends, all who have become my family across my years.
I have not experienced the injustice that my Black family has, all because my skin color is lighter. Just yesterday morning, my husband shared his own experience with police brutality. Have you ever had to lay face down on the curb? Have you ever been followed home by the police because you were driving a nice car? He has and he will tell you it was humiliating. I am heartbroken. But, that is not enough.
As the White wife of a Black man, I must confront this long-running issue the best way I know how.
What I know?
I know for sure is that I am very afraid for our country if there continues to be a lack of action and most of all, a lack of change.
I just finished reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, written in 1963, and it feels like we are still in the same place. We’ve made almost no progress with addressing the “real” problem: the underlying issue of White Supremacy. In his letter, Dr. King points out the opposing forces in the Black community:
- Complacency, which encompasses two groups of Blacks: (1) those who have adapted to the injustice, and have an attitude of, “this is the way it is” and “there is nothing we can do about it.” (2) middle-class educated whom have a lack of sensitivity, who say “I got my college education; why can’t you do the same?”
- Bitterness, those whose Black Nationalists movements are fueled by hatred. They say things like, we need to fight fire with fire.
We need a force for positive action, one that will take hard work.
At our company Check-in last week, Darren Walker, President of Ford Foundation, spoke to us: “…there are very uncomfortable truths about our history and white supremacy, but we can’t lose sight of our aspiration for an inclusive future for all.” We also heard from Brian Stevenson, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who said, “we are haunted by our failure to acknowledge what was done. We’ve created White Supremacy as a fiction to justify the racial hierarchy.” During that same session, our CEO remarked how Jane Elliott, lecturer and teacher says we spend too much time listening to the things we already believe in, and views that support our own views, versus hearing other perspectives.
Where can I create change?
I can replace my heartache with promise and hope. But, that won’t be enough. What then?
- I can put my money towards organizations that are helping to re-train police officers to have unbiased conversations and resolve disputes in more peaceful manner.
- I can also signing up to be a poll worker for the 2020 Election, to assure that everyone’s vote is counted.
I am grateful for our Country People, in all shades, who have the courage to march in protest, especially those who boldly challenge the views of Small Town America, in places where old fashioned beliefs are deeply rooted in Blacks being the inferior race. I am grateful for those who help us gain a better understanding why protesting is important; we absolutely must have positive changes, and good outcomes for these nonviolent campaigns. American protesters have done all the hard work of collecting the facts of injustice; negotiating; and taking action by marching. We need more than just promise for change.
Get out there and put your words into action.