My heart has been heavy all week. It has been all year. Pandemic has created a sense of isolation and uncertainty previously unknown to our generation. Minnesota has only recently started to open up (we still can’t eat in restaurants and many stores are still closed, masks are required everywhere and campgrounds are closed). Unemployment is rampant and days are unscheduled. Faith communities, social networks, and families have been separated to “stay safe.” I recently semi-jokingly teased “what’s next,” what else could 2020 throw at us?
Suddenly, for me, a lower-middle class white woman, the reality of racial bias is front and center in my mind and heart. Every story of excessive force and racial profiling is sad. But they don’t affect me personally. Slowly I have become more aware of my white privilege and new perspectives have been revealed. Less than a year ago it became personal … my (black) teenage niece was arrested for a crime (committed due to a mental health breakdown) and her prosecution and subsequent incarceration has been handled very differently than if my (white) daughter had taken similar actions. My heart was torn for my sister and her family.
I am guilty of having racial bias, we all are. I admit to sometimes being annoyed when people “play the race card.” I believe that generational economic disparity is a huge problem in the US and it might be a better indicator of long term issues than simply race. Still, I firmly believe that I am not a racist person. Anyone who claims that racism isn’t rampant in our country is simply choosing not to look at reality. Even worse , I have been complicit in it.
I am a 9 on the Enneagram, which means that I crave peace and feel physical discomfort when people are in conflict. I have made the choice to keep silent, to pray for peace and reconciliation, but to only speak to my close family about the injustice around us, and even then only when the pain in my heart becomes so heavy that my thoughts spill over into my conversations.
I was silently outraged after hearing about Ahmed Arbery in Georgia. My heart was heavy when I heard about Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. When the story of a white woman using his race to threaten Christian Cooper in NYC broke, I was appalled. And then. Floyd George was murdered in Minneapolis. In broad daylight. On camera. By a police officer. With bystanders pleading for his life. It is unfathomable. I cannot stay silent any longer.
The pain of our black neighbors is real and justified. People, particularly those in positions of power, need to be held accountable. There have been dozens of peaceful protests throughout our country this week. Sadly there have been even more destructive riots. We are now learning that outsiders are coming into our state solely for that purpose. The real conversation has become distracted and unity is being threatened. The evil in our world is overwhelming. The senseless destruction is overshadowing any constructive conversation.
We need to proclaim that Black Lives Matter because for too long many people haven’t really believed it, or, they were like me, and simply lived in the comfort of their reality and didn’t want to stir the pot. I now see my choice in itself was a privilege. I’m not going to suddenly fill my social media feeds with political posts or get on a soap box. I am not called to that and there are many who are passionate about this issue. I have started pushing my family and friends to see the world and the city in a new perspective. I am praying publicly for awareness and reconciliation, for healing, for a foundational restructuring of our community and political system. For an end to police brutality and corruption within the systems that are supposed to protect ALL people. I pray that I will not slip back into uneasy silence.
Recently I have been reevaluating where I stand on many cultural issues. I haven’t come to a lot of conclusions yet and I expect it will be a lifelong process. But one thing hasn’t changed. God loves ALL people, therefore, I am called to love ALL people. God created us with different shapes, colors, and personalities. We all have something to offer. We are better together.