If you know me this won’t come as a shock, but in case you don’t know me, I have a confession to make:
I don’t have black skin.
I don’t have brown skin.
Heck, even if I’m lucky, the closest I’ll get is having a nutty glow for a few weeks at the end of summer. (*sigh*) But even that takes effort. And it’s beside the point.
The point is, I want to shout out from the rooftops today how much I love and celebrate my black and brown-skinned brothers and sisters and fellow Americans! I’m so thankful for these precious ones and the (albeit slow) forward progress of a country who managed to release its own enslaved people. Thank you, June 19th (“Juneteenth”) 1865 for being the last known day of socially accepted physical slavery in the United States. It was a good step – but there’s still so, so much work to be done to move us onward and upward.
I especially want to acknowledge today the beauty, strength, dignity, and perseverance I see in an entire race of people who have faced the fires of hardship and suppression, yet who continue to become stronger and wiser for it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you – for persevering and for being you. Also from the bottom of my heart, please forgive me for when I, or others, have been unkind or unfair based on outward appearance. For my part, it was never intentional.
I do NOT pretend to know what it’s like to walk around the world inside black or brown skin. Especially within the borders of a self-absorbed society subconsciously relying on ancient hierarchies and mantras meant to monitor and control the image of their own success, power and worthiness. I grieve for the many years and layers of pain, aggression and trauma caused by unbridled racism.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the nuances or even the larger scale of racism on humanity and our culture at large; I can’t speak to police brutality, other than to say that it’s absolutely gut-wrenching and wrong in every way, and I don’t think I can provide solutions to all these complex racial injustices we find ourselves face to face with.
BUT – I CAN tell you what it’s like to walk around the world as a human being. And as a woman. A petite, white-skinned, brunette woman who, unless she’s charming, or flashes some skin in just the right places, feels like she might possibly fade into the background of every social hierarchy there is unless she pushes back with all her might.
So here are some things I DO know and understand:
Being a human is hard.
Being a woman is hard.
Being a black or brown-skinned human is even harder.
And we ALL want to be free. And equal.
ALL of us.
So, here’s the question I’m left asking: what does “free” even mean? I thought I lived in a free country. Wasn’t it founded on the principles of freedom 3 hundred (plus a few) years ago? Just how long does it take for a culture to understand freedom? Did something go terribly wrong? Will we ever understand and experience what this longed-for freedom truly looks like on a large scale?
Maybe. Maybe not. In fact, PROBABLY not. And yet, we will still long for it. We will still talk about it. We will still push for a better world. We will still speak up. We will still protest the injustices. We will rail and push back against the powers that be and force them to face the reality of just how jaded and corrupt they have become.
Will it work? Maybe.
Will it help? I think it will …. eventually.
Will protesting change the course of history? Darlin’ it already has!
But what will you do if your country doesn’t change? What will do you if those law don’t get passed? Or the justice doesn’t get served? Will you stop trying? Will you give up? Will you only see yourself and the world through others’ eyes? God, I hope not.
See I think we get it backwards. I think the freedom we long for is found INSIDE first. Not outside. The kind of freedom that tells us we’re here for a reason. Or many reasons. The kind of freedom that tells you you don’t need to force anyone else to validate your existence. The kind of freedom that reminds you, when someone speaks harshly, that they’re probably having a crappy day … and that has nothing to do with YOU. The kind of freedom that reminds you that you could climb a mountain if you wanted to. Or write a novel. Or be good to your family. Or give food to the homeless. Or smile at the sad stranger.
I hope the freedom ahead of us will look like a lot more kindness. More openness. More listening. More intentionality. More space. More acknowledgment. More light, and love, and understanding, and forgiveness.
Isn’t that the “freedom” we all long for?
Well rest assured … that kind of freedom won’t come from your national government. It won’t come from your state. It likely won’t come from your workplace, and might not even come from your parents.
So where will this freedom come from? Well … it comes from the God of infinite source. And because of that, it’ll come from me too. And I hope it’ll come from you.
Goodness I’m holding onto hope that it will.
‘Cause I like freedom. And I’m willing to fight for it.
And I hope you are too.
Let’s do this.
*I have included no graphics in this blog in order to highlight the grief I feel over the current racism crisis in our country and our world.