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Monday, May 1, 2017

Lonely

Link to news story here

His name was Jordan Edwards. And he was 15.

I'm running out of words to say to try to make you care. I can't seem to find the voice that will motivate you to do something. Mamas: another of our sisters lost her baby. He was shot by police. A fifteen year old child was killed by police.

Part of me wants to list all the details of his story so I can prove to you that he didn't deserve to die. But I'm not going to do that. Because a 15 year old child should not be shot and killed by police. Period. And now his is just another name in a long list of unarmed Black men, women, and children whose lives were cut short by a person in uniform who has been given the authority to be judge, jury, and executioner. Do the details even matter anymore if we are okay with our police force taking on that role?

White friends... Do you hear about unarmed Black men and children being shot by police and you aren't sure what to do? Are you stuck? Frozen? Do you care but because of segregation you just don't know enough People of Color for it to really resonate? We're so separated that these photos don't remind us of someone we love and so we're able to push away feelings and carry on.

Can I be honest? I get so discouraged. I'm a white woman but I'm also the mother of a Black boy. My heart freezes with fear each time I hear about another shooting by police. And the deafening silence in the white community around me speaks volumes.

I'm going to try hard not to make this a "white woman's tears" kind of post.

But I'm feeling pretty damn lonely this morning. And sad.

My reality is a weird no-man's land. I have white children and a Black child. But I'm white and so is my husband. I've learned and am learning what it's like to be raising a Black boy in North Carolina Home for us is a place where a KKK rally is scheduled this coming weekend, a place where I've gotten their recruitment flyers in my driveway. I know the fear that sits in the pit of my stomach when I think about him growing up, being out with friends without me, driving a car around this place where People of Color are still treated with suspicion and disrespect. I know how it feels to watch another police shooting of a Black child and see a reflection of MY child, a piece of my heart, in his picture.

So I sit and cry alone in my house because most of my white friends don't know what it's like to see a reflection of their children shot and killed by police time and time again. And I'm often afraid to burden my Black friends any more with my white woman's tears over this. Which is dumb, I know... they'd be here for me in a heartbeat if I merely said the word.

My local Black Lives Chapter leaders are teaching me that it's pointless to keep pointing out how bad things are for People of Color. They're leading me to work to help teach other white folks how white supremacy has harmed us too. They've learned the lesson long ago that white people just aren't moved to action by story after story of oppression, injustice, and mistreatment.

But me? I'm new to this. I've only been the mother of a Black child for 5 years. It's the most heart-wrenching, confusing, often lonely experience to parent this child whose smile comes wrapped up with joy and magic and whom I love so hard it hurts.


So yeah. This hurts. If you don't know what to do, reach out. Ask me. I'll get you plugged in. I know you are busy. But I bet Jordan's mom has been busy too. White friends, please don't let your silence speak for you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

do something.




There is SO much going on. I've felt scattered lately; torn in a million directions. It's felt hard to keep my feet under me.

But it's important that we not stop moving. Maybe you've never really been involved politically or in your community until this new administration. Or maybe you've been talking a lot about things for some years but haven't figured out yet how to take action.  It's probably important that you ask yourself why that is. Regardless of your answer, I'm glad you've started or are thinking about it. We need to do something.

White folks: we are playing catch-up here. People of Color have been doing the work longer & harder than we have. Whatever you are doing, please ask yourself this one important question: am I following a Person of Color? (or even better: a Woman of Color?) Maybe in our history there was a time & place for white people to take the lead but we missed that bus, y'all. We just did. Please feel free to reach out to me and we can talk about your feelings about that (I have lots of feelings about that too). So please, if you aren't following the direction and leadership of People of Color... um, fix that. Quick-like-a-bunny.

And I get it: there's so much going on and you are super-busy. I truly understand. I have three kids and three jobs. And a husband who should win some kind of award for staying married to me. (Bless him; he's amazing.)  For the past 9 weeks I've alternated between working a 56 hour week and a 32 hour week. I 100% understand the BUSY that life is. It's hard.

But this stuff is important. Very important. Our lives actually do depend on it. Standing up for the civil rights of minorities, standing up for our planet, standing up for dignity and truth and justice benefits us. We shouldn't do this work because we need to help out "the poor fill-in-the-blank" (the poor Black person, the poor environment, the poor Water Protectors, the poor LGBTQ community, the poor Latinos, etc). This is not a "we're at the top reaching down" kind of thing. We should be doing this because of the "poor human race." As a white person, I care about what happens to others because when their lives are better, my life is better too. My life is better because of  the Black people who are in it, because of the gay and trans people who are in it, because of the Latino people who are in it, because of clean air and water. My life is better when justice happens and when me and my fellow (wo)man are treated with dignity.  My life is better when we all can look at each other, see the image of God, and treat one another accordingly.

And if, as a white person, I can't truthfully say, "My life is better because of the people of minority status who are in it," I need to take a hard look at how I'm living my life. If my liberation isn't truly wrapped up in yours, I have some hard questions to answer. Again, feel free to reach out to me about your feelings about this. And I'll be honest, I'm not as good at this as I need to be. I've had some neighbors (like real neighbors. on my actual street) that I've been meaning to get to know and it took me till this week to introduce myself. I only know a few trans folks personally and not really all that well. I'm working on this too. I can do better and I know it.

So let's do something. Not sure where to start? The Resistance Manual is a fabulous resource to get you started:  https://www.resistancemanual.org.

What's your point of access? Maybe you're upset about ICE raids. Or the threat to public education, Or mass incarceration. Or the refugee ban and Islamophobia.  Or DAPL and Standing Rock. Or the new rescinded protections for trans people. Or something completely different. What are you passionate about? Awesome. Take that passion or concern and do something.

For me personally, "doing something" has been looking like this:
  • Working hard to call my representatives daily. I haven't been able to do it every day yet, but it's my goal. I call about immigration/refugees and DAPL, mostly. But this week I'll be calling about trans-kids and protection for my trans brothers & sisters too.  There's no excuse for me not to be calling every day. This takes less than 5 minutes.
  • Next week I'll be helping with a home set-up for a newly arrived refugee. And my regular volunteer hours with a local refugee resettlement agency start back in about three weeks (Woot! I can NOT wait!)
  • Serving on a committee for the White Anti-Racist arm of my local Black Lives Matter chapter. 
  • Serving on an Advocacy committee for my local school system to bring Restorative Justice policies to our schools. 
  • Continuing our commitment to public school: we pulled our kids from a charter school this school year because we could see how we were contributing to segregated schooling and I saw how my children's education was negatively affected by the lack of access to true diversity in their peer group (both racial and socio-economic). My regular volunteer hours at my kids' school will start back in about three weeks too!
  • Closing our Bank of America account and putting our money in a local credit union.
  • Committing monthly to reparations.  This is an incredibly exciting thing to be a part of, friends:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1387768267931483/ 

Are you interested in any of this stuff? Please reach out to me. Are you already "doing something"? Please share what you're doing. We need to connect more folks to points of access.

Let us not grow weary of doing good, y'all. We can do something.