SEEING BUT NOT SEEING
I don't recall as much craziness at once in such a short amount of time as I have recently in my whole life. Usually when something unprecedented happens, it kind of stands alone. However, we have all seen and will continue to see large shifts and changes in our culture and lives going forward. It's not all bad either.
We are just beginning to see some light after months of lockdown due to the pandemic. It's far from over but things have begun to open up. It's like a breath of fresh air, however we have the haunted feeling of the unknown. I have to admit, I am not a news monger. Much of what I see and hear is not positive so I choose not to indulge. I stay informed for the most part and that is good enough for me.
Most recently the tragic death of George Floyd has the world reeling. When I first heard about it, I knew if I were to see that video I would not be able to forget it or keep it out of my mind. I did not need to see it to be horrified by it. One does not need to personally know someone to feel the horror of what is happening to another human being.
I very quickly saw how this was not going to just go away. And it shouldn't. The discussion quickly went from being all about Covid-19 to the movement of Black Lives Matter. Every time I went into my inbox or the internet I saw more discussion about individuals taking a stand against the atrocities that are and have been taking place for a very long time.
I have to be transparent here. As much as I don't like to admit this, (due to my fear of being judged or misunderstood) I was a little annoyed in the beginning. I was thinking to myself "Really, you are getting on this bandwagon too? Why is everyone acting like this is something new? BLACK LIVES AND ALL LIVES HAVE ALWAYS MATTERED SO WHY ARE YOU ACTING SO SURPRISED?"
The fast escalation from peaceful protests to violence and destruction upsets me to my core. I have never thought that violence solves anything. We have unfair brutality and injustice happening to all kinds of people all over the world and I never thought hurting one another was a good solution.
This all brings me back to my childhood and not so great a time in my life. I thought we were so beyond this. I lived in the city of Chicago in what now is considered a very nice and somewhat exclusive area. When I lived there it was an average middle class neighborhood. A few blocks away however, it was known to be not very safe due to gang activity and crime. As in most places, you go to the school within your district. When the time came for me to change schools for 7th and 8th grade, my school was within that not so safe area. Not many years prior that school and the adjacent high school had struggled with violence due to racial rioting.
It was too close for a bus so I had to walk. Every day I had to pass by the corner where the gang members congregated across the street from my school. I was terrified for those two years I went to that school. Occasionally I would get stopped and checked for money. I would hide my money for lunch in my socks. I was a latchkey kid so I would hide my single key as well. I was picked on sometimes because I was white. You see, I was the minority. A few times word would go around school that so and so was mad at me and they were going to kick my ass after school (for no reason). I would feel like throwing up the whole day and there were a few times I actually had to fist fight another girl after school while a group of people stood around and watched.
That being said, I am grateful that I was exposed to different types of race and ethnicities in may formative years. It was normal to me. I saw the good and not so good in ALL types of people. I admit I was traumatized and carried a lot of fear due to my early years. However, that was just two years in my life. Not my whole life. I had a small glimpse of what it feels like to be out numbered and treated as an outsider. Just a very small smidgen of what it feels like to live in fear because I was not the majority. I realize that many kids get bullied. Nothing makes it okay. I naively did not think that people were still getting bullied or treated unfairly to the degree they are based on the color of their skin.
So, I've been feeling a bit like I've had my head in the sand. Racism and White Supremacy have always sickened me. How can I not be aware of all the ways it is still affecting us in our world? Have I not been paying attention? I realize we have brutality and injustice to all kinds of people but we have to ask ourselves, are the scales tipped equally?
To do my part I have to take stock and see where I could possibly be contributing to the problem. Becoming more aware of what is going on in my brain is a way of becoming more conscious of the problem and the solution.
In my heart I believe we are all created equal and perfect. If I take a brown marker or any color maker to my hand and color it, it does not change who I am and my level of worthiness. My daughter-in-law is racially mixed and so is my grandson. I can't even fathom loving them more or less if they were any different.
We cannot walk in other peoples shoes, however we can try to open our minds and our hearts and make the effort to look inside of ourselves and see where we may have our own blind spots. This is what can begin to make a difference in our country and our world.
Empathy and love feel good and will always win.
Until next time,
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