“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only
thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
I’m a child of the 60’s.
Too young to remember the protests.
I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Carefully cocooned from reality.
My charming town began as a village. Peaceful. Quiet. Idyllic. On the shores of Lake Michigan.
I knew little of the inner city.
My Father knew it well. He was raised in an orphanage. Mercy Boys Home. Raised by Catholic Priests. Until his 18th birthday. The day the orphanage cut him loose. On his own. Filled with rage.
I was afraid of my Father. I could feel his pain. My heart ached to understand him.
My Father was a racist.
The “N-word” was a part of his daily vocabulary.
I still remember how it felt when he said it. My stomach twisting itself into knots.
Oh how I hated that word.
How I hated the hate behind it.
I vowed to be different.
It’s been a challenging week filled with difficult conversations.
Today, I’m the Mother. My daughter – the peaceful protester – seeing things I hoped she would never see.
Outside her front door, a neighborhood transformed before her eyes. Burning buildings. Stores looted. Graffiti covering the walls. Swat teams and armored vehicles filling the streets.
Questioning life. Her. Me. Us.
The word that comes to mind is Heartsick.
My heart hurts.
It hurts for George Floyd. It hurts for his family. It hurts for all the “George Floyd’s” before him and the ones to follow.
It hurts for my black sisters.
It hurts for their children.
It hurts for their husbands, their brothers.
It just hurts.
I was born white. Born with white privilege. A privilege no one told me about. A privilege I never understood and one I’m just beginning to comprehend.
I reject white privilege and all it stands for, and I hope you do too.
What I accept is that our society is racist. I also accept the responsibility to change that.
To do better. To be better.
To be part of the solution.
To examine my own heart.
Most people won’t like to hear this, but ….
We are all Racists.
Racism is woven into the fiber of our being. It’s centuries old. It’s baked into our culture. It’s in our DNA.
My DNA. Your DNA.
It crushes our collective soul.
Every time we’ve put a bandaid on it, we think “Well, that’s fixed! Let’s all live in brotherly love!”
Except it’s never been fixed. We have not owned our part and looked Racism straight in the eye and understood that we are all complicit … even though nearly all of us do not wish to be, even though the thought of racism makes us sick. We haven’t acknowledged that the wounds are deep, ancient, and are not yet healed.
How do we change it?
Can we change it?
The only way I know how is by changing ourselves.
For myself, I want to be more aware and empathetic towards my sisters and brothers who have lived their lives in the shadow of Racism. My life is not their life and I cannot possibly understand what they experience. But I want to understand.
I want to hold their hand and hug them, and stand with them as true change in our society. I’d like others to stand with us.
We’ve built a community called the Forever Fierce Revolution, The Tribe With The Kind Vibe – a collective based on support for all women. I’ve wanted every woman in that community to feel safe. As I mentioned, I don’t have the answers but I’d like to for us to come together and take on the long term project of defeating Racism and having it fade away into a memory.
If we don’t commit to trying, it will never happen.
I believe it will come to an end. I believe somewhere down the road, future generations will live in a kinder, gentler world – one that is far more open and receptive, a world that embraces our differences and views them as our strength, as our superpower.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’m ready to be that change. He also wisely said, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” We cannot shape a new future without reshaping ourselves, our beliefs and our way of being in the present. Ghandi’s belief was “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” And clearly, this world does need some shaking. I’m in. Are you?
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