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White Silence Is No Longer an Option

George Floyd should be alive. It seems like the whole world agrees — so why is this still happening?

Why are black men and women still living in fear? I'm not asking for people to justify their fears. I'm asking myself, and the rest of the white community, why our brothers and sisters are still afraid to walk out their front doors for reasons we are not.

It's our job to make room at the table. It's our job to stop turning away and to stop letting this happen.

It's not just anti-black; it's anti-diversity, anti-community, anti-love, anti-human. So what's keeping us from doing what needs to be done?

For me, I'm realizing, it's fear.

For a long time, I didn't know how to respond to acts of such blatant hate, and when I dig out the real reason why I was at such a loss, it's clear. I was afraid of being misunderstood, and hurting someone even more with my inability to truly empathize with their pain. When something horrendous happened, I'd run through a lot of different thoughts:

"Should I speak up?" I never wanted something as convenient as a social media post to be a reflection of shallow concern or a vain 'good deed'.

"Will it matter to be just another voice on Facebook?" I never wanted to seem inauthentic, or risk excluding some crucial element of someone's experience.

"Will it make matters worse for his or her family?" I never wanted to overstep my place and pretend I understand something that I will never experience with my privilege.

But the truth is, thoughts driven by fear fizzle out and become inaction. The truth is, that fear has kept me silent for too long, and it's selfish. That's not to say every white person is responsible for the same silence as I am — I can only reflect on my own motives and actions. This is just my attempt to embrace the uncomfortable truth and learn more about what my silence says, even if it's intended as respect.

For me, white silence is no longer an option.

I know that I'll never be able to truly walk in George's shoes...I grieve that, genuinely. I often feel helpless, but again, I'm learning that to sulk in helplessness can also be selfish. So instead, I want to spend my time and energy acknowledging those who can and do walk in his shoes, and learning how to be a part of the solution.

Men and women who are afraid to walk outside because of the color of your skin (or your sexuality, or your beliefs, or any other reason) I see you. I honor your pain. And I am so sorry.

I feel deep anguish for the Floyd family, and every other life that's impacted by this hate. It's poisonous, and you deserve better.

Even just the last four or five years have taught me so much about what it looks like to truly make space at the table, not just reserve space. I've had a community that has helped me expand my human capacity, change my perspective, learn to look the problem in the eye, grow in my understanding of my ignorance, and realize more and more what my life, thoughts, and actions mean to the lives of others.

Sometimes, admitting that growth sucks, because it means I came from a place of unknowingly hurting someone. No one wants to believe they are a part of the problem, even by just trying to stay out of the way of someone else's grief.

But I hope it is a small comfort to those who battle racism every day. I see you. I believe you. And I honor you by learning how to be a better advocate. I want to fight alongside you, protect your body with mine, and teach my children someday to honor and respect the journey, pain, and experience of others without having to be personally impacted. I want to offer my voice, not my agenda. I want to set my own vision aside to truly see your struggle...

I appreciate my friends and community who have already been gracious teachers, especially when you shouldn't have to be. I welcome your feedback. Please, be free to tell me how I can empower YOU, as an individual, and I will continue to check my privilege every day and do the work in order to take the burden of teaching the white community off of you.

You belong at the table, and I promise to stand in the gap.

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