I let two Wednesdays go by without posting. There is plenty of current news to write about but I am honestly just weary from the mess of our world right now. The posts I write about current events get the most views but they break my heart. I just have not had it in me to write a thoughtful world issues post. But I don’t know what to write instead.
I want to tell you about all the wonderful news in my life. I want to celebrate with you. And yet, this week, I still cannot get beyond the tension in our nation. There is all kinds of insanity that had been filling my social media feeds this month. Churches burning, Planned Parenthood perversion, more Black Americans dying in police custody, and way more of the KKK than anyone should ever have to see. And to be quite honest, all of this tension has caused me to want to crawl into a hole and do my best to live and let live. Accept, there’s one problem with that. I have never been a live and let live kind of girl. It is contrary to the very fiber of my being.
I’ve addressed the racial tension twice before. It all started becoming apparent in Ferguson. And it continued in Baltimore. And the most recent evidence is the story of Sandra Bland. It is her story that has left me with so many questions. But it is the cumulative state of our nation that needs addressing.
Even earlier this week, I posted some of the questions I have about Sandra’s story on Facebook and was contacted by someone I respect and love who told me my questions do more harm than good and that the system is not broken. This friend is not alone in this mentality. It is the “American” way. Don’t ask questions. Just trust the system. We are the best nation.
Now, please hear me. I am not necessarily saying that the last statement is not true. But I would like us to consider something. What do you think the British government would say about their own system? Or consider Spain. What about North Korea? It seems to me that every governing body would make the same claims that their system is the best and can be trusted. We seem to be able to look at other nations and rightly identify the danger of not asking questions and requiring more accountability from the system and the officials that work the system. And yet, we want to turn a blind eye to our own issues? We want to go on claiming that we are one nation, indivisible? How can we? We are divided in every way. Race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status.
Disagreeing and being divided are not the same, by the way. We can disagree but be united in our desire to be a better nation and work together to that end. But I don’t see that happening. I see people crawling in their hiding places and trying not to ask too many questions. And perhaps, it is more than just blind nationalism. Perhaps it is a fear of being awkward. For me, that is certainly part of it. I see the evidence that there is something seriously wrong. Every one of those issues I mentioned can be boiled down to a racial divide. But, I do not know what the right steps are to change. I shared this earlier in the week:
“Rioting doesn’t seem to be the answer. Signing petitions and writing letters…I’m not sure what that does. Just talking about it doesn’t seem to be leading us anywhere. Man, I’m just at a loss. I will be the first to admit that my life is too segregated. I don’t rub shoulders with those who are directly affected by these sort of events that we keep seeing. And even my friends who are, I often don’t know what questions to ask. I want to know how they feel, what life is like in their shoes, but I don’t know how to start that conversation without being awkward. Help me. How do we navigate this in a way that effectively brings change? In a way that closes the gap?”
My brother gave a wise response that boiled down to the fact that it is going to be awkward but worth it. He said, “Be awkward. Be patient with your own ignorance and with other people’s anger, even when it gets directed to you. Be kind, and understanding. Be honest and sincere. Ask for forgiveness, and ask what you can do to help. In sixty years when your white grandkids are playing with your best friends’ non-white grandkids, you won’t give a damn about awkward conversations. You’ll be so thankful that you had the courage to have them. Bring it all out into the light, you know? The hatred, the awkwardness, the invisible privalege, the injustice. No sense in hanging onto any of it.”
He is wise and right. It is a daunting journey we have ahead of us. Asking questions will cause more of a mess. But isn’t that always how life is made better? When I realize I’ve held onto to so much junk and it has piled up in my closets, when I begin to clean, my closet always looks worse before it looks better. And if we ask questions, if we risk being awkward, it will be a full-on mess. But one day, we will be so glad that we were willing to do the hard thing.
So, here I am, being awkward. If you are a Black American, or an immigrant, or a refugee, will you please help me understand what life is like for you? What do you fear? What makes you feel safe?
Are you from another country? What is great about your government? Where is there room for change in your government?
It’s time. Let’s do the hard work of discovering the humanity in us all.
All excellent questions, Erin. Don’t quit asking them. We are counting on your generation. I think you are totally on the right track. After one of the last incidents, I called my best girlfriend who is African-American and said exactly that…”help me understand what it is like to be you right now? How does that make you feel? What worries do you have for your kids that I don’t have for my white, blonde kids?” We talked for an hour. We didn’t solve anything, but we acknowledged the issue and we listened to one another. We have to keep asking the questions. EXCELLENT post, as always. Love you, sweet sister!