For days I've struggled with what to say about the murder of George Floyd and the blinding light it shed on the many facets of racial injustice in America. I thought about saying the right thing so much that I didn't say anything. Right or wrong, that period of silence provoked a million thoughts that needed analyzing, which led to the revelation of some sobering facts about myself that need addressing. First things first, I can say with absolute authenticity and passion, from the soles of my feet to the top of my head and through the depths of my soul that BLACK LIVES MATTER! I say it with complete disregard for what any one person thinks about my proclamation- whether someone thinks I should have known this by now, whether I disappoint certain white friends or family members, whether I am praised, criticized, or accused of only caring now because it is finally hitting home doesn't matter to me. I'm here now, albeit a little late, no doubt. I am sick about how late to the game I've been, but the grief I feel for the truth of that statement is secondary to the work that is now required of me- the work of continuing to recognize where I have fallen short in developing my own understanding of systemic racism, the work of identifying and rooting out barriers to success for people of color as it pertains to my midwifery and self-care businesses, and the work of making certain that my children are part of the solution rather than the problem, so that the future of this country can finally live up to its pledge of "justice for all".
I'm not sure at what point in my life I developed the belief that I understood the plight of black people or that my sympathetic feelings towards what I THOUGHT I knew was enough to call myself an ally. Because I was a child of the 90's in Vegas, raised on Dr. Dre's The Chronic or Biggie's Ready to Die albums? Because I hung around with a bunch of white boys who called themselves the N word while they debated East versus West Coast rap? And it must be ok because the one or two black friends they had seemed to condone it? Because I had seen Boyz n the Hood and Menace II Society? Because I cheered and played sports with black kids? Because I dated black guys? Because, at times in my life, I lived in poverty with an addicted mother, left alone to fend for myself and exposed to sex and drugs way before my time? Because my mother was incarcerated for a year and a half? Because I have had my car searched for drugs or because I spent 18 hours in a holding tank for domestic violence? The answer is yes, on some level, that's exactly what I thought. In the words of Carrie Underwood, "Jesus, take the wheel" because even seeing these words on the screen are so cringeworthy I can barely stand it. What in the ever loving hell? That is basically saying that, growing up, what I understood most black men to be were rappers who sold drugs, objectified women, killed one another, and went to jail? And frankly, I didn't have any white role models who were in dispute of that representation. That doesn't mean there weren't any. I just never had the benefit of conversing with one. All that to say as a white person, I was severely mistaken.
"The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward."- Ijeoma Oluo