It’s June, 2020.
Not what we expected June, 2020 to look like.
Not even close.
Like many of you, we were expecting graduations and proms and BBQs.
And summer vacations and last-day-of-school shenanigans.
Yet, here we are.
It’s week 12-ish of the pandemic.
We are cautiously and apprehensively coming out of social isolation.
We are still concerned about the ever-spreading virus.
We still are.
But when George Floyd was murdered, our focus and our attention shifted.
It’s not the first time in our lives that we’ve witnessed police brutality, or outright racism.
It’s just the first time we’ve stopped in our tracks to notice it fully and completely.
Shame on us.
Most of our thoughts and discussions with each other over the last two weeks have encompassed the deep racial divide in our nation and the protests and the difficult conversations. We’re taking a good, hard look in the mirror to see who we really are. We’re signing up for webinars and reading everything we can get our hands on in an attempt to understand that we will never understand the experience of non-white Americans. Because we are white. We’re committed to being honest and vulnerable about who we are and about how much work we have to do.
The state of our world has made this post hard for us to write. We typically write humorous stories from our lives, meant to make us all laugh a little and find some comfort in the familiarity. Humorous stories feel trivial and insignificant right now.
So we find ourselves in uncharted territory. Nothing about writing this post feels right. Our usual text strings don’t feel right. Our usual light-heartedness doesn’t feel right. Our usual brand of joyfulness doesn’t feel right. So we decided to embrace not feeling so right.
Here are a few of the things that have resonated most with us, the racial injustices that have struck us hardest and stuck with us.
We knew about white privilege. We understood, from a definition perspective, that it meant that there are inherent advantages that white people have over non-white people. We just didn’t think a whole lot about how much we benefited, we benefit, every day of our existence. What we’re starting to learn about is our obligation to undo it, even though we didn’t ask for it. What we’re starting to do is shift our thinking from ‘that’s just how it is’ to ‘we can do better than this.’ We never really (and we mean really) thought about that in a meaningful way before. Shame on us.
We’re not racists. That’s what we thought. Truly thought. Until now. Now that we’re beginning to understand that being anti-racist is different than not being a racist. That anti-racism isn’t a belief, it’s a set of actions. That we need to do less patting ourselves on the back for not laughing at racist jokes and not accepting blatant racist comments and more fighting against it when it’s not so obvious and easy. Like that time when we were young and in a new job and a boss made a subtle racist remark and we let it slide. Like that time. That we can’t let things slide if we want the sea to change. That this will require us and others like us to do the hard work. Today. And tomorrow. And two weeks from now. And twenty years from now. Shame on us.
And then there’s the wide and deep generational gap we sit in. The one that shows our age and our out-of-touch ways, despite wishing otherwise. We knock the younger generation for many things. For spending too much time on social media. For spending too much time on their phones. Yet it was 17-year-old Darnella Frazier who filmed the 8 minute and 46 second video of George Floyd’s murder with her cell phone.
Struggle Alert: We’ve been discussing why George Floyd’s death has been the one to tip the scales for us. Why did it take this for us to feel this rage? And we keep landing on this video. We watched it happen. We listened to the victim cry out for his mother. We watched the police officer know he was being taped yet still continue to kill another human being. We, as a country, can’t un-see this. Maybe that’s why this is different for us. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
And with a ‘mama’ bird’s-eye view, we are looking at our own children, and their friends, in awe. Partially because we cannot believe that the kids who are challenging us with their passion and commitment to change are the same ones who still don’t make their beds and leave their cereal bowls in the sink. But mostly because their boycotting of stores that aren’t anti-racist and their understanding of the racial divide plaguing this country and their social media presence screaming at us and demanding change are inspiring. It’s hard for us not to think we know better simply because we’re older and have had more life experience. But it’s time. Time for us to get un-stuck and to listen and get woke. Time for us to let this generation show us the way. Shame on us.
And finally, there’s the Black Lives Matter v. All Lives Matter conversation. Hard to admit this one, but there’s a Black Lives Matter banner hanging prominently on a church in our town. We have walked past it hundreds of times. We have never stopped to think about it. Not once. Perhaps worse, we didn’t fully understand that All Lives Matter is an offensive retort to Black Lives Matter. It’s intended to diminish the importance of the movement by subsuming what is pressing, right here, right now.
But now we get it.
Oh we get it.
Loud and clear.
And seriously, shame on us.
Two nights ago
L: i can’t believe i’m sending this to u
L: it kinda pains me to give props to a met
L: i mean
L: i’m a yankees fan through and through
L: but i find myself wanting to scream LGM
A: atta girl
A: but if you’re going to scream
A: try LFGM
We are at a tipping point.
We are getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
We are starting the hard conversations.
We are listening and we are learning.
We know we are brimming with white privilege.
We are prepared to use that privilege to change the imbalance.
We know this sea change is long overdue.
We know it’s not going to be easy.
But for people like us, hasn’t it always been a bit too easy?