Staring out the window and seeing black and white.
Photo by Kevin Steele for the Life on Pause Project

“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.

Mostly white.

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?

Need More Moxie?! See all my Moxie On Monday’s!

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Thank-you Catherine for coming forward and speaking from your vulnerability and truth.
I grew up with a family who employed blacks but then turned around and spoke about them as your father did. I’ve had to work through my narrow biased upbringing. It hasn’t always been easy, but the freedoms it has brought me are the same opportunities everyone should be offered.
For change to take place, I agree with you that we have to face ourselves and change our inherent racism. prejudices and greed.
The death of George Floyd and the countless other tragedies call on us all to do more to fight racism, police brutality, indifference and silence.
There’s no doubt that this is America’s moment of reckoning.
We have to come together and save this country in order to create a fair and kind world for future generations.


Thank you for sharing sister. We did grow up in a far less conscious time. Things have changed for the better but we have a lot more changing to do. Racism is embedded everywhere. I am consciously anti racist and always have been. That does not mean that we haven’t been bombarded by racist messages our entire lives. It’s time to examine every nook and cranny of our subconscious to clean and clear those dark spaces and beliefs that aren’t ours but we may have absorbed unconsciously.


I’m all in. I want to create a world where my children and future grandchildren (God-willing) don’t have to keep having these conversations or witnessing such pain. I’ve learned so much this week about racism and white privilege that my head is about to explode. We all have so much to gain from becoming the kind of society where everyone can flourish and be safe. I have high hopes that we just might be getting it this time……….


Thank you so much!


Thank you Catherine for speaking what you feel. For being brave to tackle this scary subject. We want to embrace everyone, and be their ally, yet fear can hold us back because we tend to think “what do I know of the pain of others?” I think the first step is to speak up about it – just as you have. I read somewhere today that we will make mistakes in how we say things, in our perceptions, in our attempts to be an ally, but the thing is we are trying – and we are learning, and that is much better than being silent. Being silent allows abuse. So I’m glad you were courageous and have clearly spoken how outraged and saddened you are at the atrocities that have occurred, and that you are trying to figure out how you personally can move forward in a way that has a positive impact. It’s something I desperately want to do as well. Dialogue is beginning in new ways, let’s keep this going!
Serena West


I’m ok with making mistakes as I know we will all make them. The important part is the intention behind the mistakes. When they’re coming from a loving space, they aren’t mistakes but learning for us. We definitely have a lot of learning to do. I’m grateful for you!


I love your beautifully written heartfelt thoughts and sentiments.
We have to be what we want from life. Every day, baby steps break our crusted mindsets; like when I thought you don’t like me and went over to give you a hug…
I also love your shocking statements; “we are all racists.” I don’t think the educated younger generations are, my son has no fiber of racism in him, none. I grew up in the 50s, which feel like dark ages by now. I have always admired my son embracing all people because I know my judgments about them; it’s easy to fall into the trap and generalize entire populations behaviors. Is it racism when we judge and there’s no hate or dislike involved? Is patriotism a part of racism? Is “God bless America” part of that mindset? Why not blessing all humans of the world?
One way to step out of it is to watch what we think, judge and feel on a daily basis. Be vigilant about spontaneous reactions.
Next is to step into other people’s mindset; we probably have all of what we judge within ourselves and feeling it makes us understand it. Like when I stepped into “slutty” outfits; Pandora’s box of judgments opened, centuries of demeaning, crippling attitudes towards women. I felt my fears of being free and frivolous, my fear of. sexuality thanks to so called slutty outfits… who called them that? Whose are the voices in our heads?
Next time we have an opinion about a “brown, black, yellow or red” human let’s forget everything we thought we knew, the good and the bad and see a human being, only. I might have a problem with white red neck men…
Thanks for your inspiring post ❣️


Thank you Angie. Yes, FFR is all about helping to shift perceptions and expand mindsets. It’s overarching focus is on Ageism with an added focus on all marginalized “isms” including racism in our community and outside of it. When I share that we are all racist, it’s more about the culture, the brainwashing and the constant messages we’ve been given since birth. I am not consciously racist at all but I am being super mindful to clear my inner world of any negative thoughts or beliefs I may have taken on that aren’t mine – those racist things we have heard over the decades that do not belong inside of us so that the outer world can begin to heal and to appreciate our beautiful black community as they deserve to be appreciated and valued.


Written in the raw. Can’t sugarcoat. Racism and powers that push this divide-and-conquer agenda point, finger words. But this assault goes far beyond. They use spells to spell their words. Transcend, don’t get triggered by our difficult attempts to put what we feel in words. Comprehension comes from gut and heart––not waggle-babble of any tongue.


So true. Raw and real.


I know you mean well but it’s horrible and shocking to read the N word here. If you feel you must use that word to tell your authentic story please consider changing your post to read N***** or something to that effect. Continued best to you.


Hi A, thank you so much for reading and commenting, as well as your input. I edit Catherine’s posts and her original text had the “N word.” I felt strongly that we change it. You are correct … it is a horrible and shocking word. But when Catherine and I grew up it was used all the time in all it’s hatred and ignorance. I am glad the word makes you uncomfortable. It should and it makes us uncomfortable as well. It’s why we agreed to use it. The authentic story Catherine is telling demands we confront that. We both felt it has been too long and too easy to tiptoe around the reality of our world and, in particular, our history. If we don’t squarely face our society’s inner demons, we will never exorcise them.


I would be interested in hearing the perspective of a person of color on the use of this word. On the one hand, we don’t want to keep saying it for obvious reasons. But, sometimes I think we have to remember how bad things used to be so that we can understand history in context and make sure we never return to that. The truth is that many of us had family members that we loved very much who WERE racists . It makes me reflect on the ideas I hold in 2020 and wonder what my (future) grandchildren might wonder about in 2050.


Hello Kristen,
Thank you for your thoughts and your patience as we try to address this issue from both sides, from our white community and our black community.

Mike and I spoke for hours on this subject before posting. My inclination was to use “n word” as I always have. I heard what he said and it made sense to me. The horror for me came when I heard the word used. That’s what I was trying to express. How hearing that word, so potent with hatred, made me take a different path. We have spoken at length with our black sisters who are dear friends and leaders in the community. With their input, we have changed to the “n word.” There are both sides expressed from our black sisters but the one that made the most sense is to stop using the word in any way as a white person. It’s so deeply cutting in every way. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment and help us with this decision. It was my initial inclination and it feels better going back to change it and honor my intuition and your thoughts.


Thank you so much. After a lot of back and forth and conscious conversation with our black sisters, we have changed it to the “n word” as that was my initial intuitive sense. We appreciate your thoughts!

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