This has been a tough week for our country and like everyone else, we feel shattered by the death of George Floyd. Truth be told, I have not watched the video in full. I am afraid to see a fellow human being begging for their life to unanswered pleas from the very people sworn to protect it. It’s hard to think of anything else these days and COVID feels like the distant past. We are sad, confused, feel helpless and a sense of underlying guilt is creeping in. We don’t pretend to know what to do and we certainly don’t remotely understand the incredibly complex issues that have captured our nation through the murder of George Floyd.
But we are trying.
We have tried to listen, and learn, and work towards some level of understanding. As two white women, we have benefitted from privileges in our lives that we have done nothing to earn. Why is it only now that racial injustice is consuming our mind? Why is it only now that we are paying such close attention? The feeling of shame is simmering in me and I am not sure what to do with it. I want to cry and scream and hide. I go out of my way to smile at and hold the door for people of color so they silently know that I support them, that I am not racist. That I grew up in a house where all were welcome and loved and accepted. That I truly never judge by skin color or any other differences. I am not sure I ever believed racism in our country still existed until I went to college in a city. I had never seen an overt act of racism. I also never understood white privilege.
A few years ago in 2016, this story stopped me in my tracks:
I remember reading about Kimberly Houzah and being horrified that this would happen in TODAY’S WORLD. My heart broke for her and wondered how one recovers from such demeaning treatment. I thought about and talked about it for days. I even reached out to her on Facebook to let her know how impressed I was with how she handled herself in such an emotional and threatening situation.
Here is the problem though—I never did anything else. I didn’t follow the NAACP on social media, or join any BLM organizations or even read up on the subject. I didn’t reach out to other people of color to see what I could do to help or ask their opinions. The despicable event that took place for Kimberly faded from my mind and I went on with my life. I have the privilege of doing so and she never will. People of color live with this every day and I sit comfy in my privilege occasionally becoming irate by something I might see on the news.
Over the last few years, I have begun the process of learning and understanding what the “Black Lives Matter” message means and why it’s important. Of course all lives matter, but all lives are not in danger. All lives are not at risk because of the color of their skin. Black, brown and other marginalized populations need us. They needed us before and they need us now.
Yesterday, I went to my first ever Black Lives Matter Rally. Before we left, we searched the house for some cardboard to make a sign. We had a case of paper towels in the garage that we emptied and cut out a perfect piece that could be folded up and put into our backpack. We pondered what to write. It felt like a heavy burden to come up with something powerful, strong and even clever. There were so many important messages out there that have stopped me in my tracks. Images that have gone viral for al the right reasons. Yet, I didn’t feel comfortable authoring anything about this movement that I didn’t either experience or at least fully understand. My feelings over the past few weeks have been that of regret and guilt. That is what I know. Finally I told my husband to just write, “sorry it took us so long.” It really was as simple as that. It wasn’t a work of art, a demand, or even one of the amazing analogies I have read over the past few weeks. It was just the thought that has overtaken my mind.
The rally was powerful and peaceful and I felt honored to be there to listen and learn. I was proud to be walking along with Brother Gary Dantzer and listen to his words of encouragement, peace and the need for dismantling systemic racism in our country.
In addition to listening, learning and getting involved, we are also using 2021Co. to give back. The below t-shirt will be sold and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the NAACP. Will this t-shirt solve the issue? Of course not. At the very least, it will allow us to feel less helpless and might even inspire others to do the same.
You can find the shirt here:https://2021co.com/collections/tees/products/silence-is-no-longer-possible
Nicole + Emily