I’ve had the conversation with my daughter numerous times. I tell her I believe the work I do is important. Imperative. And it’s fine that it’s not on the front lines. That I’m not loud or in someones face. That I feel my work is to be there in the day-to-day. In the neighborhoods. With the kids. Families. A few anyway. Not everyone has to be an activist. That we can all work together to make a difference. Etc.
But today I’m uncertain. Because today I realize. The people who orchestrated the events on Saturday hate me. The people who carry stupid tiki torches. Tiki torches (!) whose purpose is to bring an ere of festivity to backyard parties. The people who celebrate dead leaders who are technically losers because….hello, they lost the Civil War. They hate me for my thoughts and beliefs. And most likely more troubling because I don’t care so much how they feel about me, they hate those I care about the most.
My daughter for her work. Her research. Her activism. Her outspokenness. Who she’s associated with. What she’s accomplished already. They hate girls like her.
My son because the young lady he loves (and I do too!) is of Jewish descent. Because he’s a musician and has signed up to work with underprivileged kids while in grad school. Many of which, if I can venture to guess, will not be white.
My dad because if they truly knew. If they truly knew they’d know that despite all the freckles and green eyes you don’t have to trace back many generations to find a name on the family tree no one knows exactly how to pronounce. Meaning we’re not completely white despite the fact I could, if I desired, put on a Lilly Pulitzer pastel dress and pass myself off as a Tri Delt sister.
My friends who are not white. They (meaning the tiki torchers) obviously do not care for them. Friends who I love and love me. Friends whose family trees equal people who were enslaved, lynched, beaten, mistreated. Friends who can tell their own personal stories of mistreatment. Friends who have to give their children different instructions than I’ve ever contemplated giving mine. Just so they’ll get home from a Friday night high school football game safely.
The kids. When I go through the photos on my phone and observe. The kids I drive around. Take out for ice cream. Help to read. Facilitate programming for. Bring into my home. Buy lunch for. Take to get their ears pierced. Make sure there’s a birthday cake ready because if not, they won’t get one. Drive to auditions and attend sporting events. Listen to their stories. Hear their hurts and their hopes. Visit a college. Share music. Laugh with. Cry about when they’re not around. Very few of them are not a different color than me. Very few of them have a home life anything close to the one I grew up in. Which doesn’t make them good, bad or indifferent. But it does mean we kinda need each other at times. Just like all people need someone at times. And we just happened to all be placed together. I don’t mention all this to brag or say, “hey look at me doing all this good stuff”. I say it because I love them and the fact people hate them angers and saddens me.
To know there are people. Evil, hateful people who have wrong intentions towards those you love and care for is quite possibly the most disturbing feeling there is. Because it invokes fear. Which is exactly what evil, hateful people want.
The hardest thing is I don’t know what to do except write the above paragraphs. I have no solution. I feel this is a step. Getting thoughts down. Recorded. Reporting out to the world that:
Hey world, I’m a white person and I don’t like what’s happening here. It sickens me. And I plan to do something about it.
Meanwhile I’m thankful. For my friends who are right there with me. For a church pastor who brings up the hard stories on Sunday morning and a congregation filled with people a lot like me. Doing the work. Hoping for a change. Grateful my children are difference makers. And I’ve got friends right beside me, often putting in many more hours.
Thankful I’ll sit down at lunch on Friday with a young lady my daughter went to high school with. Same age. She’s attending an ivy league school. Because she’s freaking brilliant. And I’m proud of her. As I am any girl I know who’s accomplished good things. The tiki torchers hate her. Because she’s black and female and brilliant and my understanding is they don’t like that combo. I hope I can be an encouragement to her. And her to me. It’s a little thing for me to do. Very minimal and obviously not life changing. But I hope to hear what she thinks. What she recommends. What would help make her world a better place.
And that’s a start. Eat a meal with someone and find out what would make his or her world a better place. After that I’m open to other ideas! But for now it’s all I’ve got.