OK. Deep breath. This is a departure from my normal kind of email and my avoidance of all things political. I’ve been pre-occupied of late because I’ve been in the process of hiring my very first employee, and I will share more on that soon. I’m not a big news watcher because it generally is not a pleasant way for me to start and end my day.
But it’s hard to avoid the big topics. I’ve said a minimal amount about COVID because I, like most of you, am tired of hearing ‘we’re all in this together’ when actually we’ve been very much apart. And now, over the past few weeks, we have another issue in the news. Again. I have been giving a lot of thought to what is happening in our country; the blatant racism; the lack of and the wrongful leadership. I decided that I can no longer be part of the silent majority. (And you all know what happens when you decide)!
How can we call ourselves a great nation when about 1/3 of our population is in fear of leaving their homes and ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time? How can we say we are free, when mothers of teenaged boys have heightened concern about their very lives, every time they leave the house? Why is this fear and hatred still happening, simply because someone has a different skin color? It boggles my mind.
I’m a white woman. My ancestors came mostly from England and settled in Virginia. They were farmers and fishermen. Some were indentured servants. Many owned land. And some had slaves. For this, I feel shame. There is nothing I can do about what happened over 100 years ago, but I do have a voice and I can speak my mind when I decide to.
Although my family had roots in the south, I was not taught to hate based on skin color. For that I am grateful. Within my family, each successive generation (of which I am aware) made a conscious effort to raise children who would not be bigots. I don’t know how you teach this to a world that seems bent in the opposite direction. Divisiveness is reining over inclusion. Power is flaunted instead of being used to bring people together. Our positive role models do not get the publicity that the idiots do. They get a couple of minutes at the end of a news segment to ‘leave us uplifted’.
All I know is that votes and voices and money matter. We each have to examine our own thoughts and values and start somewhere. I talk to black men and women every week. I also see their posts on Facebook and LinkedIn. They are my friends, my neighbors, my colleages, my pastor. They are outraged, but mostly they are scared. It’s not fair. They can be smarter and richer than me but they can’t live their lives with the same freedom that I can. For black men, it’s an especially scary time. Can you really blame them for being angry? I do not condone violence in any form. It does not solve problems, it exacerbates them. MLK and Ghandi had it right. The peaceful voice speaks volumes. But I understand the anger.
It’s time for every one of us, black and white, to examine our own hearts and to engage. I believe that hatred is born of fear and fear is born of ignorance. It makes sense to me that if you want to end this cycle, then every white person needs to have a black friend and vice versa of course. It’s not one sided. You can’t spend your whole life in a group of either color and expect to eliminate the fear. You have to break those walls. It’s basic group psychology that ‘outsiders’ get excluded. We all have to be conscious of that and guard our hearts against it. This is not a time to be insular; it’s a time to reach out.
I’ve not experienced the struggle and the fear, but I, like most of the silent majority, am completely appalled by those who continue to treat black lives as if they mean nothing and by anyone who makes judgement based on skin color alone. I just thought it was time to say so. I hope you will do the same in every way you can. Let people know they matter. It’s not a grey area. It’s black and white.