A mom's perspective on how tough conversations can halt racist sentiments.
Thank you to the friends who reached out because of the protests, systemic racism, and the death of George Floyd (and others). I am grateful for your concern and asking how you can help. How do I feel? I am outraged, shocked, angry, frustrated, and deeply saddened by everything (the racism, the violence, the looting, the endless police brutality, and mostly the perpetual lack of understanding & empathy). So many others feel the same; it is just too heavy to discuss.
Writing this post has been incredibly difficult, but I had to push through and try, the cause is too important to stay silent.
As a new mom, I want the same thing as many other parents, to raise the next generation of children in a world that is safe, diverse, and affords opportunities and happiness for all. I want to discuss this epic moment in our history as pivotal. Pivotal in the sense that one day I want to tell my daughter, Adeline, about how I advocated, helping make a difference. I want to say to her how the world was once a scary place for Mommy, Daddy, and many other people of colour. I want to tell her she doesn’t have to worry because, in 2020, we created a world full of hope and change.
I don’t want 2020 to be solely about COVID-19! I want to talk about 2020, in the same way, our great-grandparents speak about the war on civil rights. Better yet, in the same way, my South African friends talk about Apartheid. Better yet, in the same way, my Jewish friends talk about WWII. The scars will still be there, the fight will be long, but we fought, mobilized, and won. How do we define winning? That is a challenge on its own, but for now, let’s start with stopping racial profiling, the unnecessary use of force, and the lack of justice for police brutality.
Here is the gut-wrenching part. I fear that this is too idealistic! I fear that nothing will change.
The fear that change will not come is crippling.
I am desperately looking for a strong leader who will advocate equality for all people. I find it incredulous that people still look to Trump for leadership and it is crushing (despite recent events, as of the date of this post, CNN reports that 45% of the US population still supports him). The problem is, many of these people don’t understand.
I am also searching within the black community. Who is the voice of our revolution? Where is our Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Chisholm, or Mandela? I keep waiting for the Black Superman/Superwoman to fly in and save the day, and I think others do too.
So, since you ask, here is what I need from you.
Together, we have to do more. We can’t sit by and hope. I need you to
Understand the cause, and
I need your action.
Education will lead to understanding, and I have included some of the best resources others have sent me. I think you will find the article by Obama incredibly useful. The second link provides accurate discussion points on informing others of the challenges black people face.
Overall, we have to educate, march, petition, lobby our government, have tough conversations, donate, and encourage people to VOTE, VOTE, VOTE.
Please join the cause in full-force. It’s time, you as my friends, had some tough conversations. Please talk to that white friend in your circle who is a little too conservative for your liking, and who support policies that do not favour minorities. I need you to take the initiative on that one. We have tried to no avail. Please help them understand the significance of this moment, the significance of the cause, and that racism exists everywhere. Brutally killing black people is not ok. PERIOD. The role of police is not to execute people, or implement the death penalty in the street. PERIOD.
This is not a copout, and I am not expecting white people to save black people, but I am expecting change from you, and I am setting the bar high. I know that you are not overtly racist (because I wouldn’t be friends with you if you were), but I also know that you have encountered racist people in your extended circles, and a lot of the time, they do not understand our struggles, and don't care to.
I have heard you tell me stories about them. I have listened to you say to me; they “can’t understand why people are rioting?” “Rioting just makes black people look worse,” “George Floyd should have done something differently.” I heard you say; they "support #allivesmatter, and what’s the difference between that and #blacklivesmatter." I have heard you say; “they will never change," so I can’t even have those conversations.
I have heard you give up.
I need my white friends to reflect on racist behaviour and learn the facts. I need my white friends, those with white privilege who recognize it in themselves, to get a hold of the conversation within the white community.
I know you have reached out to me because I am black. After all, this is happening to the black community. This is a-ok, I know that you are reaching out to show you care and to start a dialogue. I feel your love and appreciate that, but again, I need you to take the initiative with your white friends. I will be there to help and to offer support when you need me or have questions. I have many friends who have done so already (thank you).
I understand why the world in the US is upside down. It is obvious that what happened to George Floyd has been happening for centuries, and it continues. If you question the why now? What made everyone react this time? George Floyd’s murder portrayed an up-close, video-gone-viral, look at a murder too gruesome, too inhumane, and too tragic for anyone to ignore. With the recent killings of Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, black America reached a tipping point, and now here we are. Unfortunately, looters are overshadowing the cause and muddying the waters. The looters are giving people an excuse to ignore and dismiss what has happened to George Floyd.
To me, that is crazy.
I need my friends to bridge the gap between us and those stuck in the mud. Our lives depend on it, hence #blacklivesmatter. I am sorry that I am pointing fingers and if you feel singled out. I know other black people need to change too, and we are working on it.
Right now, my sweet little girl is so oblivious, but one day, she will lose that innocence. She is going to find out that the world is upside-down. She will know that there are good people and bad people, and on top of that, the people who are supposed to be good, are often bad.
How do we soften the blow when children lose that innocence? We need the change to happen now. Regardless, I am happy, she sees the good in people and despite my anger around what is happening, I do too. I still hope. I see that the leadership is there on both sides, we just have to listen, we just have to understand.
As a Canadian new mom living in San Jose, I plead with other mothers in the US, Canada and abroad. Right now, our actions will set the narrative that I tell my daughter, and what you say to your children for generations to come.
I love you for helping; I appreciate you reaching out and being open to my words.
I have included some action items and a list of resources to help us all. Some of them take only 2-3 minutes, some are longer and more informative. The commitment is in your hands now.
This an opportunity for everyone to be an ally and support the Black Lives Matter movement. Change is 100% possible if we follow these 12 tips:
How to be an ally: Discuss, Understand, Participate, Educate, Donate & Share
Discuss racism amongst yourselves. Reach out to your white friends to have discussions about the why.
Understand & reflect on why this is happening.
Understand that it’s not just a Black thing, it’s an Us thing. We all play a role and are in this together.
Understand that there are MORE peaceful protesters than there are looters (but looters make a better story).
Understand your biases and white privilege without being defensive
Participate in the non-violent protests.
Listen to your black friends about what it has been like for them.
Educate yourselves. Read a book by a black author. Watch a documentary on the black struggle. Listen to a black podcast. Follow a black social media influencer (Beyoncé doesn’t count).
Educate and ask questions at school / church (ask if they have included any black or multicultural curriculum).
Donate to the cause.
Share this information with others.
Resources to be the change:
Contact Minneapolis District Attorney, Michael Freeman, to demand justice for George Floyd: 612-348-5550, firstname.lastname@example.org, or their website.
Text 'Floyd' to 55156 to sign the change.org petition
Call Mayor Jacob Frey 612-673-2100. Say "I want justice for the murder of George Floyd. I demand the prosecution of ALL the officers involved including, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng. This is a racist hate crime and an abuse of power."
Donate & Sign Petitions
Post on Social Media:
If you are posting positive messages on social media, please cut and paste the hashtags below in your message. This will not only share the message with black communities, but also the white communities, that need it the most. If you need to explain why you are posting to these tags, feel free to explain in your post.
I want these groups to know that I spread love and peace and you can too.
#nra #kag202 #blueline #sherifsoffice #buildthewall #maga #deuptysherif #policefamily #armedforces #bluelinestrong #bluelinefamily #backtheblue #bluelinebeast #draintheswamp #serveandprotect #secondamendment #lawenforcementfamily #keepamericagreat #makeamericagreat #makeamericagreatagain #womenfortrump #policedepartment #policepics #sheriffdeputy #policeofficer #meninblue #policelife #policeweeks #policefamily #coplife #fitcops #policetraining #alllivesmatter