To bear witness. To hold space. To not avert our eyes. To speak up. To examine ourselves. To act.
This is where my head is right now.
I’m hesitant to write this post, though… because this is not my story to tell.
This is the story of righteous anger and rage, historical and present oppression, systemic racism and generational grief.
This daily struggle is not my story to tell.
Instead, my life experience has been one of privilege.
I can ride a bike, I can jog, I can park my car, walk on the street, wear a hoodie, enter a business and get pulled over… all without fear that I might get hurt or killed because of the color of my skin.
In fact, I am a white person whose white family has been accepted and loved and taken in by an incredible community of brown people in a country that is not my own. (A country who our 45th U.S. president consistently insults and bullies. That’s another post for another day. I’m fired up.)
There are no words for this.
But what I can do, is bear witness.
I can hold space.
I can practice empathy.
I can choose not to avert my eyes.
I can speak up.
I can examine myself.
I can learn.
I can act.
We need to do better.
This post is a formal acknowledgment. It’s an embrace. It’s a commitment. It’s a contract. It’s an acceptance of responsibility.
I am overwhelmed with feelings. (If you’ve been watching my Instagram feed, you’ve seen it.) I cry at commercials on a regular day. I am weeping for today and I know many of you are.
About a year ago I decided I was going to read more authors who weren’t white. These books… oh man. These books started it in my belly. The fire.
Ask Craig. He got to hear about it all.
I felt like I was re-learning history. I was furious. Embarrassed. And bewildered.
I remember the first time I read about the rules that black and brown people have to relay to their children: hands visible, complete composure, eye contact, but not too much eye contact… I was FLOORED. Like any ignorant white person would be. I have never had to have this conversation with my girls.
There was and is so.much.I.don’t.know.about.
But Mr. Floyd, and countless others who have gone before him… they have made it so that we cannot look away. We must bear witness and OPEN a book, and READ. We must listen to thought leaders who don’t share our backgrounds and we must LEARN.
If ever there were a time to slide our feet into the shoes of our black and brown friends, it’s now.
“You matter” is my personal mission.
We speak it and live it in our house.
We practice and learn about empathy and the worth of each and every human being and how it is OUR JOB, as Broughton’s, to make sure that people know that they matter.
We will not look away.
Because black and brown people MATTER.
Anything less than equality for all is unacceptable.
Friends who are white: now is not the time to say, “All lives matter.”
Don’t do it.
Empowerment, support and acknowledgment of oppressed groups’ historical experience is not a threat to you and your lifestyle. Instead, it’s the largest act of kindness we can offer. We can simply acknowledge that black and brown lives matter: “I understand that today, in this world, your life is valued less than mine and I’m DONE with that. I see you.”
So this is what we do.
I read this in, “So You want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. And it seems beyond appropriate to reference it today.
So, acknowledging us, believing us, means challenging everything you believe about race in this country. And I know that this is a very big ask, I know that this is a painful and scary process. I know that it’s hard to believe that the people you look to for safety and security are the same people who are causing us so much harm. But I’m not lying and I’m not delusional. I am scared and I am hurting and we are dying. And I really, really need you to believe me.
Let’s do better.
Silence is a betrayl at this point.
Here is the list of books that I recommend so far. They’ve made an impact on me. I have so many more to read, though.
(Note: These are not affiliate links, I don’t make a dime if you buy them.)
Reading Now: The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. By Michelle Alexander.
Heavy, An American Memoir. By Kiese Laymon.
Talking to Strangers, What we should know about the people we don’t know. By Malcom Gladwell
When they call you a terrorist, a black lives matter memoir. By Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
So you want to talk about Race. By Ijeoma Oluo
The Color of Water, A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother. By James McBride.
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. By LaTasha Morrison.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. By Robin J. DiAngelo.
Recommend more books to me, please.
Start following black and brown people on instagram. Listen to podcasts from people of another color. Donate. (Simply google Racial Justice Organizations.) Here’s a great list of resources that was shared with me.
The ball is in our court, friends.