The older I get, the clearer my vision. I’m not talking about my eyesight. I’m talking about the lens in which I view my world. After Jillian died, my eyes were opened to a deeper dimension. Cancer and death has changed me in many ways. Many of them good. Many, some may argue, not so good. Bonus for me- I no longer worry about that. But I do believe that there is good, the collateral damage I’ve spoken about before, in every situation if you are willing to open that window and look out. And look within.
Our world is going through such turmoil right now and we are all being touched by it in some way. The COVID19 pandemic has taken many lives and continues to put people at risk. Families are grieving the loss of loved ones. Our nurses and healthcare workers have had to make decisions that leave them sleepless at night. Businesses are struggling, people are out of work. Our future is uncertain.
Sharing the spotlight with COVID19 is the nationwide unrest and protests after the death of George Floyd. Social media has been flooded with posts on the Black Lives Matter movement. One post in particular kept worming it’s way into my consciousness. God is talking to me. He does that.
It was from a dear friend of Jillian’s and a special young friend of mine. I love this girl. Mekyla posted her vulnerability and what it’s like to have brown skin. I was horrified at how she had been treated, but so proud of her for speaking out. I have her permission to share.
“My heart has felt heavy this week. I’ve cried. I’ve seen friends speak out. Seen perspectives shift. I’ve listened and been quiet because the stillness is where I find calm and clarity.
We have to LISTEN before we can be educated. We have to ASK before we can stand sure in our beliefs. We have to SEEK others perspective before we can create our own.
So I’m being vulnerable. Ask me about the events in the news. Ask your brown friends. ASK what the silence of others feels like to them right now with what evil and hate is now more apparent to the masses.
My brown skin has brought tough experiences just like many others. I’ve been threatened in a bar for someone not “wanting to drink by a nigger” and then pressured out of that bar in fear of my safety, as white adults harassed me and asked me if I had ever seen a burning cross before. I’ve been told that “I’m not going to take professional advice from a colored girl”. I’ve been mortified as a police man interrogated and embarrassed me for running in a white neighborhood. I’ve been yelled at by white men in trucks waving the confederate flag proudly. Thankfully it has not been worse than that!
You aren’t off the hook for “not seeing color” or because you feel uncomfortable or because you have a black friend or black family member or because you like Kobe or LeBron or have never actively been racist towards someone. It might mean you have a good heart and have done better than generations before you, but it doesn’t erase hard realities that THERE IS STILL WORK TO DO. Your white skin brings favor, benefits & privileges, and the ABSENCE of racial intimidation, hate, and unfortunate situations like being killed for running while black or suffocated while restrained.
You don’t have to apologize or defend yourselves… My family is black and white. Most of my friends are white. And I have love for them and know they love me. The point is to recognize and acknowledge that we have to ask questions, talk, and listen and then go and do better. Be better with each generation. Raise a voice. Live change. Embrace hard truths. Learn to respect differences. And be resilient. And then keeping doing it. ❤️”
THIS is how I believe God works. He works through people and He gives us opportunities to open our eyes. He plants a seed. He talks to us. It’s our choice on whether we listen.
I’m not off the hook. This young beautiful woman’s words have resonated with me and prompted me to ask one of my co-workers his view on our current events surrounding the Black Lives Mater movement. I’m not off the hook. Don’t stay silent. Ask questions.
Okay, sweetie- I’m asking.
Below is a conversation I had with Marcus, a co-worker of mine:
“There are a lot of conversations that need to be had around this nation and the world (because it just isn’t an America issue, it is a worldwide problem) between individuals. There needs to be honest communication between the two parties. It is a multi-layer problem that is embedded into the foundation of this nation in particular. It stems all the way back to when this nation was founded.
When individuals try to bring their issue to the front, people that don’t experience that issue or have not seen it like to assume that it was made up or that it does not affect them so why should they care. Take police brutality for example, people have been trying to say for a long time that this was a problem, but no one hears them out. When individuals did speak out about it or try to peacefully protest to highlight the issue they became a scapegoat and their point dismissed because of any number of reasons. People didn’t like the way they protested, people did see the issue so they assumed that it didn’t exist, xyz.
It’s not the fact that it is getting worse, which I believe it is, it’s the fact that it’s being recorded now. Which allows everyone that would deny that it was a problem to have to face that it is happening. What a person decides to do when they are shown this information is their own choice.
If you notice something is wrong, you should speak up. I believe that fundamentally we all know what is right and wrong and some people chose to do wrong. I cannot speak for everyone as to what people can do because I don’t speak for the entire community. I will say that personally, all that I ask for is to be heard out and that when someone sees someone acting out of line or being hateful, that someone calls them on it. We are all people in the end and just because I am black or you are white does not mean that we should be treated differently.
Once a person is aware, like you, that people are going through the issue not to turn a blind eye to it. I have family that served in the military, I have family that are still active duty, my cousin that I spoke to you about was active duty, got a purple heart came home and was a cop. I respect what they did and what they stood for, but at the end of the day they were not looked upon in the same way as their other counterparts. Speaking with them I get the sense that is almost like “yeah you are a cop or in the military, but as soon as you take off that uniform, you go back to being treated just like any other black person”.
I guess, if I had one request is that if you truly believe that is going on right now is wrong, to do whatever you feel is right and within your power to help. I cannot dictate what your conscience calls you into action, so I can’t really give you that answer and I feel it is not my place to. For me I personally make a point to go out of my way to teach any youth that I come in contact with to teach them a better way. When I was doing the after school program I would help each child, but would push those kids of color a little more because I knew what the world was and some of the challenges they were going to face. I don’t have the answers of what people should do, but I know that spewing hatred and not saying anything about it is not the way.
To me, they are two issues that are being addressed. You have police brutality and then you have the issues of race. Which is what I feel are getting lost in what is going on. I think that when you look at Black Lives Matter for example. The most common response to combat it is All Lives Matter. From my point of view, no one is saying that one life is more important than another. That group or movement, whichever term you want to call it, initially was to draw attention to the excessive force that black people feel is too common. They acknowledge that police brutality is an issue across the board, no one disputing that. But there have been several cases just in the last few years, where there were videos of these instances and no actual repercussions.”
I realize this is a long post, so thank you for sticking with me so far. I’d like to stitch it all together in a way that I hope will bring out a smile.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to help an abandoned Robin. I took him in and fed and cared for him the best way I knew how. I don’t know how these critters find me every year, but they always do. Each day Fidget grew stronger and learned the beginnings of flight in my bathroom. It was a blessing for me to experience a glimpse of nature first hand, and to help save this little creatures life. As the days went by, my goal was to release him back to where he belonged. And it all took time.
Meanwhile, there was a lot of activity going on in my back yard- all of which most likely would have gone unnoticed if I wasn’t working toward releasing Fidget. The Robin’s nest on my front porch was practically bursting with three babies. One Robin left the nest a couple of days before the other two. Can’t say I blame the little thing. Barely enough room for two! I’m guessing that these little ones were about one week younger than Fidget. The family stayed close by, so I was able to watch Mama and Dad as they busily feed them, and to observe how the parents worked together to care for their young. It was precious to see these fledglings balance themselves on the tree limbs they landed on while they learned to fly.
As the family of Robins were doing their thing, Fidget was flying back and forth between my backyard and the neighbors big maple tree. Back and forth, back and forth every few hours for two days, each time staying away a little longer. At night, I would take him back inside to his cage until morning. I wanted to keep him safe for as long as I could before he left me for good. A mama thing.
After dinner on Friday, Fidget took off and didn’t come back. I didn’t call him in that night, thinking he was ready to stay the night outside. I wasn’t worried. Not really. It was warm outside, no rain in store, and I had his cage open for him if he decided to come back. I did start to worry however, when he wasn’t around Saturday morning. He didn’t come back all day and spent another night outside.
My heart was heavy that evening. I couldn’t get the notion out of my head that I had let him down somehow. If I had just stayed outside that night and waited for him to come home. Then I’d be able to put him back in his cage for the night. Safe. Maybe a cat got him. Or a hawk. Any number of things that could harm this young Robin.
Sunday morning I went outside with my coffee. No Fidget. All of the other birds were singing and going about their bird business as normal. As I sat quietly with my coffee, I prayed for my little one. I prayed that he was okay. I prayed that if I just knew he was okay, I could go about my day with a lighter heart. I called him. I called again, “come here, come here”! And from my neighbors maple tree Fidget flew to the nearest branch of my redbud tree, closely followed by an adult Robin. The older Robin flew back to the tree next door, and Fidget just looked at me. He looked right at me. He stayed for only a few seconds, just long enough for me to know he was fine. He was free and living the life he was intended for. Thank you, Lord.
So, what do I know about life? I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I’m just a white woman trying to do the next right thing and to leave this world a better place for my kids and grandkids. And I sincerely believe that we all know what the right thing is. Black Lives Matter. Yes, I know: All lives matter. But it isn’t the blue jay that’s in trouble right now. It’s the Robins life that’s in danger. We can help.
My prayer is for all of us to be open and to spend more time listening. To ask questions and not to judge. To love and to be kind. Open that window and look out. And then look within. And I pray for all creatures great and small, black and white, to have the opportunity to spread their wings and live the life we were all intended to do.