How can I, as a white, middle-class, privileged female, respond to what is happening in our world to friends in the African American community? How can I respond to all those minorities who feel scared, discouraged, and afraid for their lives, each and every day in ways I cannot even begin to fathom.
I have no words really, for the destruction, pain, agony, loss, and grief in the families of those who have been killed. For their neighborhoods which are being destroyed. For their communities filled with so much grief.
I don’t have all the answers, but I have a responsibility to speak out. As an occupational therapist, I work with clients who do not look like me. I have worked with clients who don’t speak English as their first language, clients who do not have the same skin color or identity as me. I still work with them to give them the best care. But I’ve also had to check my bias a the door for some clients. It is hard work. I never used to think about it as much as I do now.
So, for this post, I’m going to share something I wrote in a writing circle I am a part of shortly after Ahmaud Aubrey was killed. After Ahmaud’s case was made more public, my husband and I ran 2.23 miles for the date he was killed. I don’t like to run, but I didn’t stop. Something about this was different for me. Something about this made me more angry than others before. I’m sorry, to all my African American friends for what is happening and I’m sorry it has taken me this long to find the right words to say. These words are mine, raw, and still learning. These words are for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and so many others who have gone before and for my friends now who live in more fear than ever before.
Hard it must be, to no look like me.
To know anywhere you may look, you may be met with hateful stares. Hurtful words.
Slang, that like a bee sting, sting you to your very soul.
How hard it must be, to not look like me.
What can I do?
What can I say?
I cannot apologize the hurt away.
I cannot erase all the years of hate, the tears of hurt souls, the heartaches from lives lost too soon.
I cannot even begin to imagine how life must be like. I cannot fathom what all it means to look and be seen as different.
But I’m doing my best to love, to show support.
And grace, so much grace.
Grace to myself, grace to my friends.
Grace to my heart.
I am privledged. I never used to think or feel that all the time until now.
Now when I look at my friends, my work, my church, my neighborhood. They all look like me.
But why do I still feel fear? When I see someone who doesn’t look like me.
I claim to be love, to know love, to accept all.
And yet, and yet this little voice speaks through “You don’t know what they’re going to do.”
But why is fear here? Is there really any need?
Is there any place for fear to be?
Who has the final say?
Fear or love.
My vote is for love.