Please read to the end.
This is my story but first :
Healing in the hurt.
Peace in the storm.
Forgiveness to bloom.
Justice for those who have been violated.
Love for life and truly honoring each other.
Hope that voices will be heard, our hearts will break for racism/hate like Gods does and in that reconciliation begins.
Joy does come in the morning so I pray that there will be joy when we heal,grow and take the deliberate steps necessary to NOT pass racism, to the next generation.
I am overwhelmed at times by the cry out of hurt,anger, and pain that has risen across this nation. You can’t just ignore it this time. What happened to Amaud and George broke open what has been simmering for years and years. Sometimes I just have to put my phone down and focus on the people around me finding life in the day to day. It’s heartbreaking.
In the midst of the pain and fear and the plea to be truly seen and heard I have seen some good mainly that a lot of listening is happening.
More people are willing to listen to their black friends,family and coworkers about why what happened to George Floyd matters and how that’s not the first time they have encountered either first hand or through family or friends dangerous, embarrassing, angering,or humiliating situations at the hands of law enforcement, bosses,coworkers,store owners,teachers,church members,businessmen because of their skin and the derogatory stereotypes, racist want to associate with black people. Some of these dangerous stereotypes are still used and have become so common place that many people may feed them without realizing it.
As a black person I am proud of my heritage. To be honest it’s not what I lead with when I introduce myself. I would rather FIRST be known as a creator, an honest person, a hard worker, a loving wife,daughter and sister.
I see myself this way and I know the majority of people I encounter do too.
However that doesn’t exclude me from the stereotypes others assign me when they see my looks. This IS NOT imagined.
Growing up multiculturally race wasn’t something I was profoundly aware of day to day. But it informed my understanding of the world. I encountered little things that made me aware that the world saw my race and made judgments about me but don’t remember real discrimination.
It wasn’t until I moved away that I had my reality meet the worlds reality. I had just moved to a new town for college and had to learn how to take the bus. It was dark out and I headed to a Giant to open a bank account. I had my bags and a coat because rain was coming. After getting my account set up I was given a bright orange bag with a folder and information. I missed the bus to get home and needed a ride. I decided to brave the downpour to walk to another store to wait. I gathered my stuff in front of the store as rain poured down I set my bags down and purposefully made a show of putting on my hood and gathering my bags so people could see it was raining that’s why I needed a hood. I wasn’t sudden about it took a minute to get ready peering into the dark empty parking lot. Once I walked out of the store I ran because it was raining so heavily and I didn’t want to be soaked. Im not fast but I’m making a beeline because I’m getting drenched. As I’m running I hear someone coming after me yelling “hey, STOP!!” Most other shops were closed and I was alone no other people were in sight I was by myself. I figured it was better to face a dangerous person rather than not see what they were doing. I was surprised to be confronted by two white men who were employees of the store. They yelled again “hey stop!” Confused I kept my distance I felt cornered and looked for anyone else just in case. No one was around so I gripped my phone just in case. One man looked and said “he said he saw you take something from the store” I didn’t register what was happening. I hold up the bank bag and say “I was at the bank do you want to look?” I had one thought, get out of here as safely as possible.I think they saw I was not running and looked kind of embarrassed and said “no you’re good” I went to the other store as fast as I could shocked. I had not even walked around the store nothing in fact I was obvious about walking out with the bank bag just so I would be seen as having legitimate business in the store.
I’m grateful that the I got to go home. I’m grateful the police weren’t called. I’m grateful that the two men weren’t violent. What if it went wrong would I end up being a short paragraph in the news? Would people on FB comment “well if she didn’t steal why was she running?” Or “ she should have not looked so suspicious then maybe she would have been fine” or “ well a lot of people who steal look like her so maybe black people should steal less so they won’t be suspects” or “ statistically most theft is committed by black people so it was not abnormal she would be stopped”
Would the headline read “ suspected thief caught outside the store by employees” what would happen to my reputation as a Christian, photographer, artists? Would I be reduced to a #? Would I have to defend myself? Should I let strangers rifle through my personal property to prove that I was guilty until proven innocent? Would the men say they saw something in my pocket, that I looked suspicious but that they would never discriminate because their best friend is black?
I began to ask what were my rights? Why did I always show off my money and wallet when I entered a store. Why did I enunciate when introducing myself especially at interviews. Why did I always take off my hood and keep my hands by my side carrying my bag obviously.
That’s not everyone’s story. For me it was then that I got “it” for me I always felt safe and valued. That day reality set in. I could not behave anyway I wanted because to someone else may see me as a thief or someone who has bad intentions because of my looks. It was humbling and humiliating. I was angry, I have never stolen a thing in my life. I never would. I work and earn my own money. I don’t cheat. I felt hate and anger pushing in and in that moment decided to forgive. I would never see those men again but I refuse to let that make me fearful of doing what I needed to do.
Just know that not every story ends with death. For some it’s daily for others it’s maybe once in a lifetime. For everyone it’s wrong it’s insulting and demeaning. Racism and it’s affects are poison. I once heard someone say riots make more racist because they see black people acting like the stereotype violent, irrational,victim card carriers. To that I say if you can’t separate the actions and behaviors of individuals without tying it to their looks you are racist. If you can see terrible acts committed on mass by others and condemn the action without assigning a trait to say “all white people are violent because this group was” then you have the capacity to understand the difference. Racism exists independent of the people it is against. It didn’t matter that I have never engaged in stealing or that I was a Christian or that I work hard. I was still called out, cornered and stopped.
This is why people are grieving and angry. Because they have been in the position where they had to defend themselves against labels the world decided to put on them. They worry and I do that my husband and brother will be seen as violent and threatening. Will my future children make one bad mistake and it cost them their life? If you are in the majority in America you may never experience this. It may seem strange or like victim mindset. You may wonder why people still protest even when you agree George Floyds death was wrong. It’s because it’s not only His death it’s every day. It’s like my experience at the doctor being told to “stop eating fried chicken so you can lose weight” it’s the cautious glance of my white neighbors as I take my walk, it’s having your doctor dismiss your serious concerns as common. For many it’s life or death, it’s their reputation their job, their opportunity. Others stories are very serious and life altering.
I don’t ever want to be accused of cutting the line, getting favors, or a hand up just because of my race. I don’t bring it up all the time but be sure I am black. I approach life differently because of it. I walk in stores, interviews, college classes,drs offices different because I know the expectations.
I will continue to be myself, I will be happy, I won’t let any experience make me bitter, I refuse to live in fear. I will continue to love people even when we don’t see eye to eye. I will do my best to answer questions. I won’t tolerate being treated different because of my looks. I pray that if you cannot understand the anger or frustration (and I am separating the opportunist rioters who have behaved violently and viciously including the senseless death of Captain David Dorn) I pray that you do listen, talk to someone you really disagree with. And agree on these things.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
If you don’t want your kid treated based on shallow stereotypes then fight for that for all kids.
If you want to be innocent until proven guilty. Extend that to everyone, desire it for everyone truly.
If you believe and entertain the idea that the actions of some define inherent traits of a group of people and is an accurate predictor of how someone will act if they look a part of said group, change.
I know I have believed stereotypes about others and have had to change them because they were destructive and didn’t define the reality of the peopleI i met. It was also wrong to use the little information from media or tv or news to define anyone whether or not I met someone at all to “debunk the stereotype”. I’m praying that God would show me my heart where do I prematurely judge someone based on the outside?
That’s it I have a lot to say but prefer face to face conversation than the chaos of social media I just wanted to say this. I know people may disagree or would say something different but honestly no one has the perfect words to handle this. It’s messy, it’s human and we have to do the work to get to where we need to be.