This world has my heart broken into a million pieces.
Can I be really honest? I’m experiencing emotions I’ve never experienced before. Emotions I assume my black friends experience every day. I think before Bennett, I thought I was supportive. I thought I understood. I thought I was brave.
I. Was. Wrong.
I’ve been praying. Really praying. Praying for understanding and empathy. God, I feel it and and it’s crippling. And it’s nothing compared to what POC actually feel living this every day.
I’ve struggled to put into words how I feel right now, which is foreign for me. I feel like it’s hard for me to speak to something that I don’t have empathy for. I can talk about education, infertility, miscarriages, adoptions and faith all day long but I cannot tell you that I understand what it feels like to be black.
I spend much of my life encouraging people to dig deep, seek Jesus and be on a journey for self growth. This week, I really took time to dive in and do that myself. I haven’t posted much on social media because I really wanted to take a step back. I needed to reflect and see how I can do better. So, I spent time reading and listening to the hearts of POC. Let me tell you that I hear you and I am so sorry for your pain. Please forgive me for my own ignorance and for not stepping up sooner to hold your hand and love you the way you deserve to be loved.
I have struggled with my own emotions with my fear for the world Bennett will grow up in. Will he experience these hardships (hardships I cannot begin to understand) when he grows up. How can I do better for him and all of the other moms who live with these fears. I never had these fears with my other children, my white children. Bennett being biracial has helped me grow and realize that I have so much to learn. It’s taught me how to speak better and to not say ignorant things. Statements like, “I don’t see color.” Y’all, everyone sees color and color is beautiful! And we should be celebrating color and not trying to make people blend in with anyone else.
This is not a police issue. This is not a crazy white woman in a park issue or two crazy white men in a truck issue. This is a heart issue and THE HEARTBEAT OF AMERICA MUST CHANGE. If you think this is setting us back, you are wrong. This is dry bones coming ALIVE. This is people finally paying attention. I’m not condoning violence or looting. That is wrong. So wrong. But I am supporting a national awakening that has to happen.
This is where I’ve landed today. I’ve been in a place of prayer but I truly believe that is not enough. I will keep praying but I also believe that God clearly calls us to ACT. I believe in peaceful protest. I believe everyone can do something. Write a letter, make a phone call, share your heart on social media, research, read. Do. The. Work. And not just for a day. Commit to creating a better life for your children, your neighbors and all of God’s people.
Now more then ever, we need to love our neighbor. Every last one of them. We need to be conscious of how others feel.
Last week I was in Hobby Lobby. I had just a minute to run in and grab something. A women walked by me and said good morning. Honestly, I was in a hurry and combing the isle for what I needed so I was focused. My mask was sliding up to my eyes and I was annoyed. I didn’t realize she was talking to me. She turned the corner and said, “Good morning to you too. Have a nice day. You too” as if she was playing out the conversation she was trying to have with me and she was upset that I ignored her. When I realized it, I was mortified and embarrassed. I went to find her a few isles over and apologized. I told her I was so focused and in a hurry that I wasn’t paying attention and I was so sorry. She smiled and said thank you and to have a good day. She was the sweetest. I could have easily left the store and not found her but it would have been the wrong thing to do.
As embarrassed as I was, my feelings didn't matter. She was a black woman and I didn’t want her to feel like I didn’t see her or I chose to ignore her because of the color of her skin. I didn’t want to be that person in her day. We are in a very sensitive time and it was so important to me to stop rushing and make sure I found her to tell her I was sorry and I appreciated her seeing me.
I want to be the person that does more than say the words. I want people to know they are appreciated, valued and loved. No one wants to feel unseen. Unheard. I cannot imagine what it is like having the fear that someone won’t talk to me because of the way I look or worse, judge my intentions because the way I look.
The pulse of the world has me very aware and I think that is a good thing. You can’t see my smile behind my mask but I am making it a point to smile at people, say hello, let them know that I see them and I value them. Change will not happen overnight. It will take time but it won’t happen at all if we all don’t do some work here. Today I ordered a ton of books for Bennett and myself. I refuse to be part of the problem and I want more for my son. I don't want him to grow up in fear. I want him to see himself in books and know that God knew what he was doing when he created him.
This weekend Bennett was walking in my husband's shoes. His daddy's shoes. But, the truth is, Nick and I will never know what it is like to walk in his shoes. He will endure more because of the color of his skin which means as his parents, his white parents, we have work to do.
Work requires action. Talking. Reflecting. Reading. Learning. Growing. And it might be painful too but that can’t stop us. This is not about my feelings because I cannot understand how POC feel. I’m not the one hurting. I am someone who can do something though. And I hope these are all thoughts you have been processesing this week too.
What are you reading, listening to, etc to grow? How are you taking action? How are you reflecting and changing? This isn’t an opportunity to push back, ignore or walk away. Lean in and dig deep because people are hurting and everyone can do more. If we truly want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we have got to stop being complacent and start acting with a heart to love all of God’s children.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow's cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).
Yesterday, in my hometown of Waco, TX, people gathered for a Walk for Healing and it was beautiful. There are places reacting in violence and it’s scary but there are also so many people dropping to their knees, seeking forgiveness and unity and that is where we begin to heal.
If you say this post has nothing to do with education and it offends you, I beg you to check your heart. This absolutely is about you and me. It’s about the children we teach. It’s about the culture of our society. And for me, it’s about change for my child. Because I don’t want your child to fear my child one day. Because he is precious and adorable in his curly headed two year old self but will you still feel that way when he is 25?
I challenge you to be BRAVE. To dig deeper and learn. We’ve always said as educators, we are better together. That has never been truer than today. We are better together and POC need us to be better together. Because nothing changes if we can’t do this TOGETHER. And it’s okay if you don’t feel it to your core because it doesn’t “affect you.” Think of the students in your classroom and what life you want for them because I know you love them. Think of the 30 year old woman or man they become. And love them there.
Listen to this song. Let it wash over you. On repeat. And come ALIVE.
If you are seeking books to read for yourself and your children / students, click here for my suggested book lists.
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