The past few weeks have been rough. Even as I sit here at my computer, trying to type the feelings of my heart, the cell phone video loops that are in my head break me all over again. There's been a lot of tears + prayer in my home lately. Not only because of the grief I've felt over the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile + the 5 Dallas police officers, but I'm hurt by the fact that it took me so long to get here, especially as a black woman.
Racism isn't new, and neither is the fact that people of color have been systemically shut out + put down for centuries. The injustice + cruelty of police brutality has always been part of the minority experience, yet for some reason, it all has recently struck a cord with me. Yes, the names + stories of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown + Sandra Bland are familiar, but this past week, something different was sparked within me: a concoction of righteous outrage + compassion. I feel like I've been under some sort of anesthesia, in a numb stupor regarding the never-ending tally marks of innocent lives lost at the hands of police. And suddenly, it has worn off, and I can now feel the pain, sorrow + heartache of what's been happening. It's excrutiating, so much so that it's hard for me to go about my daily life knowing that there have been + are so many mourning their beloved.
I feel full of both regret + gratefulness for having watched the videos that have circulated around social media. Regret because of the horror of witnessing murder, yet grateful that it forced me to wake up. I watched two bloodied men gasp + fight to hold tightly onto the very breath God gave them. I heard the soul cries of a teenage son who longed for his daddy to just come home. I felt the strength of a 4-year-old as she tried her best to comfort her mother. My mind, heart + soul have been forever changed, and the reality that my husband, brothers + sisters' lives could be snatched away next is a depressing one.
Because we live in the age of social media, everyone's got an opinion to share + commentary to offer. However, we also live in a time where somehow, the definitions of tolerance + respect have changed. Gone are the days of mature conversations, where we're eager to learn, quick to listen, slow to speak + slow to anger. Instead, we're quickly offended because we mistakenly think we should care exactly + equally at all times about everything. Where's the growth in that? Where's the love in that? And how can unity bloom from that?
It's easy to sit behind the comfort of our keyboards. But the reality is we need to all be proactive in doing something about the injustices in this world.
I am not anti- police; I'm anti-police brutality. And I know that #alllivesmatter, but I also think it's important for the world to know #blacklivesmatter too. I'm not sure how anyone could sit back + watch all of the mourning, loss + violence that has taken place and not feel anything or be moved to take action toward making the world better. So in an effort to appeal to your humanity, and prayerfully, get you to be color brave rather than color blind, I've decided to share the eloquent words of our dear friend, Arielle Estoria, who has so perfectly + poetically expressed what I think many of us are wrestling with.
"This is about feeling.
This is about taking enough time to stop running, to come face-to-face with truth and fear and not letting fear drive the car anymore.
This piece exists now because this affects all of us,
every background, every skin tone and if you are human. If there is blood coursing through your veins, then you are not excluded from this.
This could be though as of just my story, through my perspective, in regards to my reality or it could be that for someone else too but honestly it is so much bigger than both of us.
The more we pretend this--"this" as in hatred and racism and injustice all wrapped up--does not exist, the more power we give it.
It's time to shift the power.
I bet if you took one moment to actually FEEL something about what is happening in our world today, your thinking would not cloud so much. Too many people are hurting + yet again I would dare to say that not enough people are hurting.
This project is not a political stance; this is a collaborative human observation."
- Arielle Estoria