Thursday, July 14, 2016

I Have A Voice

community, connection, friendship, social media, social awareness, cultural competency, respect

It's been a heck of a week (and then some) in our country.

One loss after another and my heart continued to break a little every day.

This past weekend my husband and daughter and I took a drive to Virginia and on the way he and I started talking about all the things that had happened.

My husband had only JUST heard about Philando Castile the day before. This was the 8th. It happened on the 6th. I just assumed he had heard, but sometimes when you're working so many hours you miss things in the news.

The night of the Dallas shootings he had just come home after midnight, maybe closer to 1AM, and I woke up, looked at my phone and felt sick. I remember whispering it to him, forgetting that as it was officially the next day it was his birthday. So instead of happy birthday, honey - he got - omg - police officers shot after snipers shot into peaceful protesters in Dallas.

Nighttime whispers.

Not the kind they should be.

And so, bringing you back to our Saturday morning car ride, we spoke for a bit and something struck me. And then? I broke.


Yes. I have the privilege of being a white woman in America who was able to wait several days before crying somewhat hysterically about the state of the world and the way that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had been killed. And how there were innocent people - people who were being protected by police officers and the officers themselves. These people - their lives were in danger because they were raising their voices and doing their jobs.

All of that, my friends? Broke me wide open.

See, most of my day-to-day communication occurs online, unless it's with my 9-yo daughter. So the first face-to-face (side-by-side) conversation I had about the killings, the unrest, the fear, the loss, the pain, the hurt - the first time I actually spoke words to another adult about these things tore me to pieces.

And this post shouldn't really be focused on me. But I needed to write and share and let you know where I've been and what's been on my mind.

Please, know me well enough to recognize that I'm not posting this for any sort of consolation. This is not about me. But this is me, trying to keep it real. Trying to explain that the news finally sunk into my being and I lost the ability to hold off the tears. I know that it is my privilege that enabled me to last as long as I did. I don't worry about my husband and my daughter because of the color of their skin. I don't have to.

But I have so many friends who worry. Who I wish with all my heart did not have to worry, but they do. Dear G-d, what kind of world do we live in when we're watching people's deaths shared across social media? Where did the numbness come in to even allow that to be a norm? Because we can't be numb. We can't ignore what's happening around us. Social media does its worst, and it's freaking scary that this is our life today. Our world.

How can I be the voice to explain that when people say that Black Lives Matter they don't by any means mean that all lives don't? How to say things that resonate and encourage people to look through the eyes of those around them?

What words do I have to say to stress that when someone talks about the all too regular loss of life of black men because of law enforcement they do not mean that ALL police officers are bad? If you know me you know I've known many a LEO. I've loved and respected many. Personally I don't know any bad cops. But people, they're out there. And we're not saying they're your husband or your brother, your father or your friend. Bless your loved ones for the work that they do to keep the communities you live and work in safe, I have true respect for anyone who puts their life on the line in any such way.

But some police officers are not the cops you know and love. And that is heartbreaking. And life-threatening. Maybe not to me. And not to you. But to my friend. My neighbor. My daughter's classmate. Her teacher, even.

It's taken me such a long time to finish this post. I've been at a loss of whether or not my words would be the right ones and thinking so hard about how emotional these days are for so many.

And I know some people will read this and walk away. They'll think I'm jumping on some bandwagon (where is that bandwagon? I haven't seen it.) or taking a stand, sharing my stance, when I shouldn't be. But that's okay. It's taken me a long time to say something here on my blog, but I have been saying it on social media. Maybe not loudly enough - but still - saying something.

Just because the news has been quiet for a few days does not mean it's all over. It's not done. Not by a long-shot. And we, any one of us, can still use our voices. We can still raise them and stand up for what matters.

So to my friends who are hurting who might be reading this, I'm sorry it's taken me a few extra days. I'm still here for you. Beside you. Listening. Observing. Taking it all in. Speaking loudly. As loudly as I can. I'm here for you. You matter.

4 comments:

  1. Andrea, thank you for sharing your feelings. They are also mine. I cannot believe that we still don't get it, that people even deny that there is a problem. And yes we are becoming desensitized by it and THAT is even more to fear and be concerned about. We don't need ANYONE telling us to be afraid, rather we need to unite and come together. I welcome your comments and anytime you wish to share them, I'm open. I am breathing, but saddened. Today it overwhelmed me again. Our children, our grandchildren, the entire country--we are all affected. Breathe and be you, that's a great start. Beth

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  2. Sometimes, I've found, you just have to step away. The day before my husband's birthday several years ago, there was a mass shooting in the city where I work. Needless to say, that is all we talked about. I had met one of the victims years ago and a friend knew the person who would have been teaching that class if she had not taken the day off (the person who took the class for her did die). All I could think about was that woman, and what she would live with the rest of her life, as innocent of anything as she was. I still think about her, and a brother and sister who were orphaned that day. I wish you peace in this difficult time.

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  3. Yes, terrible things are happening. The good news, in a way, is that it's not getting swept under the rug as it used to. As horrifying as it is, we are finally seeing enough of it that even those of us who don't want to believe it's happening finally have to.
    This kind of racial profiling and police brutality have been going on since Reconstruction (even longer, if you want to count slavery). So thank you for standing up. Thank you for screaming and crying about this. Thank you for pointing out that just because some are bad, not all are. Thank you for reminding us that if *all* lives really did matter, we would not have to point out that Black Lives Matter, too.

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  4. Thank you for always being authentic, credible and honest. You sharing your honest feelings is all that I'd ever ask and yeah, I believe there were several reactionary bandwagon posts. THIS IS NOT ONE!

    Can't wait to see you soon!

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