My heart is heavy, as most of yours are.
I have so much to say, and have felt all ranges of emotions. And yet at times I feel paralyzed to move and speak, and to share sewing projects again. We all process emotion and life experience in different ways. I am only speaking to my own experience and this is not meant to judge others and their platforms. For me, I don’t feel ready to share projects I’ve made and to be the bubbly person that I typically am, when inside I feel saddened for our country, and for our Black sisters and brothers, and for the world, and for the complex discussion of police brutality, the police force, the justice system, and the overall system that we have set up in this country.
I have had a new video sitting in my channel queue for two weeks, just waiting for me to hit “publish” but it feels insignificant and dishonest to my emotions right now to share that. What does feel honest is to speak to this moment and how I am feeling. My site and brand is a place for creative arts and I know I’ll know when it feels right to share that with you again…and maybe this post is more of a journal entry to myself as I type this out. I truly believe that writing down our thoughts and speaking them out loud are a great way to formulate what we think and believe. So I want to speak out loud here.
What happened to George Floyd is appalling. It was wrong. It was brutal.
I will say again what I spoke to in my instagram post this week.
Black lives matter to me.
This moment is about talking specifically about the Black community and understanding how the system we have set up has many inequities.
It’s a complicated topic. It has hundreds of years of layers upon layers that can’t be answered in a few posts, or in a few weeks. And I don’t think anyone thinks that it can be. But when I hear things like real racism was in the past, or I can’t believe anyone is still racist, or I don’t know any racists. I know those statements don’t reflect the world we live in. Racism exists in all cultures. And racism against our Black sisters and brothers still exists today. I’m sure I have said and done things that have perpetuated this and I am learning to understand and change that.
It can feel overwhelming when a problem is so large that we think, how can I help? What can I do? Everyone comes at this from different angles and life perspectives. Some choose to donate money to organizations that promote anti-racism, some have been quietly doing outreach work in minority communities for years, some help take action by speaking up on their social media platforms which have a large reach, some don’t personally know a Black person or person of color in their day to day life and are trying to internalize that and think how they can help make a change. It’s so very complicated. Even writing this post feels complicated, and yet it doesn’t.
It feels like now is the time that we can have these really hard conversations—or at least I hope it is. That we can create open dialogue to truly, really talk about how we have arrived at this point, to discuss history, to look at data and numbers in different communities to understand what is happening. To consider where we have or haven’t evolved. It’s a time to share our feelings and emotions from all sides, because emotions are relevant too, they are part of our human experience.
Validating someone’s experience is a huge first step toward change. When I listen to the heartbreaking stories from our Black sisters and brothers (and other groups in our country) it shifts my perspective. It helps me understand what it’s like to walk in some else’s shoes. Isn’t that where the path to empathy starts? Understanding someone else’s viewpoint and validating their experience? I know that’s how I feel when I share my stories with others. I want to be heard. I want others to say Yes. That’s real. I can understand why you feel that way.
There are many stories, podcasts, articles and information that have been shared these last few weeks, with personal accounts of how racism still exists in our communities.
If you’re not sure where to start:
• This article written by a Black man who grew up in a predominantly white community is very perspective-shifting. I shared it with my siblings and parents last week and it really hit a nerve, as I could see myself in many of his stories and internalized how I can do better. I highly recommend the article, Reflections from a Token Black Friend, by Ramesh A Nagarajah.
• And If you would like a very open-minded podcast discussion about this current moment, data points, how to have open dialogue, and racism, I highly recommend the podcast episode Can We Pull Back From The Brink, on the Making Sense podcast by Sam Harris. I have listened to his podcast for years and really appreciate his thoughtful analysis of life. He has an ability to speak up on both sides of the issues and point out the real problems.
So where does racism exist?
Some racism is blatant and obvious and seen on horrible videos and through hateful words. Some racism exists in the inequities of opportunities for the Black community in education and jobs. Some of it is seen in the fine-line verbiage of laws and amendments that exist in our country’s framework.
And some of it exists within us.
It’s hard to read these things and look inside and ask how we can improve.
We can start by asking ourselves some of these questions:
– When telling a story, do I mention someone’s race when it is irrelevant to the story?
– Are there phrases I say that have racial undertones, that I’ve never considered and could stop using?
– Do I have biases that I frame people by without even knowing it?
– Do I point out all the mistakes someone else has made without considering all perspectives that have led to them being in that situation?
– Can I give people the benefit of the doubt?
That last one is huge. SO huge.
THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.
This is something that I truly try to live my life by. And I am far from perfect. I mess up all the time, and discuss with my husband, and try to see things differently. This entire post is part of a self-introspection for me, while also speaking to the topic.
It seems that lately we are quick to assume the worst of each other. When we see someone on the opposite political spectrum from us, we size them up. And we assume they embody all of the bigoted, or ultra woke things that we think the other side is. We spout off things like:
Religious people are crazy.
Liberals are insane.
Why are we so quick to put each other in boxes?
When we know in real life that we are complex humans with fluid ideas and evolving thoughts?
We’ve allowed little room for people to sit in different places of a discussion at once, or room for each of us to change. We’re in a cat and mouse game of “gotcha” moments, trying to cancel and call each other out. And social media complicates all of it. We have stopped researching and looking deeper into a story or issue before we simply reshare or retweet, or before we consider someone’s tone in a post or tweet (which is hard to do in social media). We have stopped giving people and stories the benefit of the doubt.
The truth is, we are complex humans. We are layered.
Some good people have bad parts and make horrible mistakes, and some bad people have good parts and can show compassion. It’s complicated, and then it’s not.
This quote by Anthony Bourdain really struck me this week:
“I used to believe that the human race as a whole was basically a few steps above wolves. That given the slightest change in circumstances, we would all, sooner or later, tear each other to shreds. That we were, at root, self-interested, cowardly, envious and potentially dangerous in groups. I have since come to believe…after many meals with many different people in many, many different places…that though there is no shortage of people who would do us harm, we are essentially good.
That the world is, in fact, filled with mostly good and decent people who are simply doing the best they can. Everybody, it turns out, is proud of their food (when they have it). They enjoy sharing it with others (if they can). They love their children. They like a good joke… Sitting at the table has allowed me a privileged perspective and access that others, looking principally for ‘the story,’ do not, I believe, always get.
People feel free, with a goofy American guy who has expressed interest only in their food and what they do for fun, to tell stories about themselves…to let their guard down, to be and to reveal, on occasion, their truest selves… People, wherever they live, are not statistics. They are not abstractions… I’m not saying that sitting down with people and sharing a plate is the answer to world peace. Not by a long shot. But it can’t hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain
If we could start by giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and realizing that we have more in common, than not…we could go a lot further as humans.
And the other beautiful part of that point, is that it’s never too late to change who we are and to improve. If you have felt yourself pushing back, or have made mistakes that you aren’t proud of in this discussion, that doesn’t need to define you. We are all evolving.
And speaking up, or saying you’re sorry, or trying to help change your own heart is always welcome. Are we going to continue making mistakes on all sides of the discussion? Yes. Can we give people the benefit of the doubt? Yes. I hope so. If you are working from your heart, from a place of love, the goodness will show through. There is space for all of us. At least that’s a dream most of us hold.
This was a long post.
And a bit rambling.
But thank you for letting me write this down and share.
As I said earlier on here, writing down your thoughts is powerful. I have done this many times with my own thoughts on religion and it has helped me really sort out what I think and feel.
I encourage anyone who’s heart weighs heavy right now to write down their thoughts, to speak it out loud. You don’t need to be a “writer” to share your perspective and voice. Speak what’s inside of you.
Lots of love to all of you.
Lots of love our Black brothers and sisters right now.