“I have no words today. I just don’t. I don’t know what to say.”
As I walked in my neighborhood this evening, this is what I just kept saying (I’m sure the neighbors were wondering why I was talking to myself). I then took time to think. Why is this so hard? Why can’t I find the words to share my emotions right now?
Then I realized, I can’t find the words because as a white women I recognize my privilege. I know that I can walk most public places and no one is going to think something bad of me. I know that I can walk most public places and feel safe. Then it resonated with me. A truth that I already knew, but hit hard today. I can do that but my husband can’t. My husband, a black man, does not have the same luxury because we live in a society that is built on racism and everyday we see how racism exists in our current structures. I then realized that I was scared. Not the same scared as a black man who is pulled over by a police officer or the black woman who is fearful of her child being out of her sight. But scared. I am scared that my husband, who runs regularly, could be out exercising – breathing in the fresh air and someone see him, make assumptions and then he would be gone. I am scared for my husband. I don’t know how to say it, but I am no longer the naive white girl from Franklin who sees everything as roses and sunshine. The reality is that the man I love could be mistaken at anytime as “someone else” based on the biases another holds and then he will no longer be there. That makes me fearful.
As I think about the shooting in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery and then the shooting of Dreasjon Reed, a young black man in Indy, just last night, by the police; I am angry. I am mad. I am wondering when all of this will end. When will we rewrite history so that racism no longer exists? And then I’m reminded of a professor once who said, “Jennifer, as a country we are young – we will not learn until we fall and have to rebuild.” Sometimes I think she’s right and perhaps had hope in the trauma of COVID-19 that this could be our countries reboot – but how do we re-imagine freedom that everyone has access to when violence is happening disproportionately to black males? And I should add innocent black males. This is where I get angry. Every person has a story and their story should not be abruptly ended by someone else. Their story deserves to be lived and told. And this is why I was at a loss for words all day today and didn’t feel like doing much. A story of an Indianapolis black man was ended last night. This young man was the son of someone I knew. This caused my mind to wander and think about the man I lay next to every night. I simply could not think about how to post or share my anger – my emotions – my hurt – my pain because although I was feeling this way, I know many others were feeling the pain even more.
We all have an enormous responsibility to work toward a more just society and to purposefully be anti-racist. We as a country can no longer claim that we don’t see color because that is denying one’s identity and it is saying that racism does not exist (and operating in a white dominant narrative). We do not improve by ignoring what is wrong. Instead we name it and work on it. Therefore, let’s name the racist structures that exist in the areas that we serve and start working on them. Then, and only then, will we start seeing more peace and reconciliation in our spaces and see the violence and injustice start to decrease.
Tomorrow morning I will wake up and run 2.23 miles for Ahmaud Arbery. Please join me and post #IRunWithMaud. Let’s show how our collective support can make a difference.