To the voices that have cried out but have not been heard,
To those who have buried loved ones too soon,
To the communities of black, indigenous, and people of color,
I am scared that I’ll get it wrong when I say this, that I’ll use the wrong words and add hurt to where there is already too much. I’m coming humbly, meekly, desiring to heal the wounds that have hemorrhaged for too long. There are a few things that I want to tell you, and I hope that you know they come from a place of deep respect and love.
First, my heart is breaking for you.
My heart breaks for George Floyd and all the lives that have ended to soon because of the abuse of power that has stood for centuries. My heart breaks knowing—but not fully grasping—that you live in constant fear for your lives for nothing more than your existence. My heart breaks thinking that when a cop pulls you over, you aren’t afraid of getting a ticket. You’re afraid of getting killed. My heart breaks that the president is busier offering threats and urging more violence, then trying to find a peaceful solution and exercise his power to create real change. My heart breaks that you have to teach your children how not to get shot by the police. My heart breaks that black people are 12 times more likely to be falsely convicted for crimes they did commit. My heart breaks because I want to take it all away—ALL OF IT. I want your community to live without fear and without pain and with JUSTICE. And I feel utterly powerless to change anything within this goddamn awful world.
My heart breaks and breaks and breaks and breaks.
And that’s not enough. It’s not enough just to be sad for you.
Second, I recognize that I am part of the problem.
I recognize that I’m part of the problem every time I include skin color in a split second decision. I came from an extremely conservative family and in a blindingly white community where the ‘white savior complex’ was the closest I ever came to diversity (which means crap), and I know that I have to fight the unconscious bias my upbringing instilled in me. I am fully aware of my privilege. When new laws have passed, I recognize the harm it has for the BIPOC and minority communities and it breaks my heart and it makes me ANGRY. But I can still sleep easily at night, because my skin is just light enough to keep me safe. As long as I - and any other white person - allow the status queue to stand because it profits me, I am a part of the problem.
Third, I want to be part of the solution.
I don’t understand looting. I don’t support beatings. I am very Anti-Violence, but I am even more anti-Police Abusing Their Power, anti-White Supremacy, anti-Peaceful Protesters Getting Tear Gassed and Arrested, anti-The Systematic Oppression of BIPOC, Minorities, and the LGBTQ+ Community. And I want to listen and understand. I want to ensure that you are not alone in your struggle or that you don’t have to continue to bear this weight alone. I am here to listen, to stand with you on a line that says ‘No more’, to proclaim that my life doesn’t matter until your life matters, to call out injustice and racism without selfish fear of the consequences for me. As an author, I want to write the hard things, the dirty things, the things white people want to squint at because it makes them face a part of themselves that they don’t want to face. I want to use my privilege to make things better for YOU.
Fourth, what do YOU really need?
I can’t do everything, but I can be something. But I’m checking my whiteness right here. I will not assume I know what you need. I accept that I can not possibly understand what it is like to wear your skin. I can sympathize, I can try to help, I can be #muted on Twitter and Instagram. But maybe that’s not really what you need. So, I’m asking and am prepared to listen. What do you need from me? I’ll do it.
Fifth, I’m afraid, but maybe that’s a good thing.
I’m afraid to join the protests, because I might get arrested. I am afraid to put up signs in my yard supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because I live in a deeply red state and red neighborhood and I’m afraid to get a brick thrown through my window. But this type of fear is only new to me because someone decided my pale, pasty skin was deemed ‘better’ than all your beautiful shades. This is the type of fear that you live with everyday merely by existing. And I’m not okay with that. I’m not. And I promise, I will put myself aside and find ways to support you and show up for you—to show courage for the things that matter. Even if it scares me. ESPECIALLY if it scares me.
I will willingly live in fear, until you no longer have to.
And most importantly, I stand with you.
Against neighbors. Against family and friends. Against government. Against injustice. Against hatred. Against the f-word president! Against ANYTHING that dares to stand in our way.
Until your life and your spirit and your heart can live as free and unafraid as me, I STAND WITH YOU.
With all my heart and love,