Black Lives Matter. Seems simple enough. Seems so simple you don’t really have to think about it. Black Lives Matter. Dur. Move on. But it turns out, we don’t live in that world and to think that we do is uninformed and sad.
I struggled with writing this post. Well. I struggled with the idea of writing this post. Is this the right platform? Do I have something to say that isn’t just jumping on the bandwagon, that isn’t pandering to recent events? During the rise of COVID I learned it was best to put my head in the sand and do my best to block out the terror that was happening around me. I don’t watch the news, I don’t read articles, I stopped going on Facebook. Its how I cope. So when George Floyd died, it was on my peripheral. When people started also talking the names Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, I thought this, like everything else horrible in the world, would pass. Because that’s what we do as a society. We get angry. We let it pass.
But there are times when things are just so horrible, you have to take your head out of the sand, you can’t let it pass anymore.
I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. Rural New Hampshire decades ago, even now, is probably the whitest of the white. I could literally count out the number of people of color there. Racism wasn’t something I thought about. We didn’t experience or witness it in our daily lives. It wasn’t until I made the move to New York, landing in the hyperdiverse Jersey City, that I became surrounded by a sea of color. To me it was amazing. Unfortunately, that’s were I also realized racism wasn’t just something on TV. That all cops weren’t going to meet you with a smile and a ‘how can I help?’. It was here where I made friends of color who helped me learn more. Who, just by being with them, we had to be careful of what we did. I could see people watching them closely. They would tell me about their experiences.
I never thought that I was a person of privilege. Even now my heart says “Umm what?” but it’s true.
It’s a sad truth. There are people who are inherently treated better in this country. I’m not talking the one percent. This is on a day to day, person by person basis. People are treated better because of what they look like. The color of their skin. People are doubted, threatened, killed, because of their color of theirs. It’s not right. It’s sad. It hurts us all. And I don’t know how to help.
Will protesting help? I’d like to think so. It has in the past. That can’t be everything though. How do we as a country, a society, stamp out something that was so unwillingly ingrained? So much so we don’t even know its there? Back when I was in New Hampshire, someone once told me I was being racist. My very first job was at an ice cream store. The question “Would you like some jimmies on that?” was something we asked everyone. Year after year, “Would you like some jimmies on that?” until someone once called me out.
“You know that’s racist, right?”
Turns out, the term jimmies is racist. I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I didn’t have context. It wasn’t said in hate. It was simply, what we did. We didn’t know better. But I learned. I never said it again. I told anyone I knew what I’d learned.
Protesting. Knowledge. Speaking out. That’s how we can help. No longer turning away or putting our heads in the sand over things that make us scared or uncomfortable.
As I am still dealing with furlough paychecks, I don’t have a lot, but I donated to the NAACP fund. I’m learning. I’m reading. I’m looking for more ways in which I can help and I hope you do the same. Its the only way this is going to get better for everyone.
Lots of love,
How to help:
Join your local protest.
– If you’re going to do this, please be safe!
Contact your representatives.
Support business run by people of color.
Provide assistance to protesters.
– Black Lives Matter