I think, right now, a word that comes to mind about the state of the country is “uncomfortable”.
It’s interesting how race has always been an issue, but now that tensions are running high amidst a pandemic where I am forced to pay attention to the news more often than not, I find that I am more susceptible to people’s opinions. If this person, who I love deeply, is supporting the man in the white house, does that also mean this person doesn’t think people who look like like me deserve basic human rights? Does this person who doesn’t believe in wearing a mask think their life is more important than others? Does this person who has not posted anything about Black Lives Matter not feel a responsibility to speak up for injustice even though we’re friends? For the first time in my adult life it feels almost impossible not to have a political conversation.
We are at war with humanity right now and this country is the most divided it has been in a really long time. These conversations are hard to have because we fear that the people we love the most will not believe the same things we do. And yes that is heartbreaking. But I truly believe that people will never be able to fully see eye to eye unless they are forced to have conversations about what they don’t understand.
I have been having so many conversations with my own mother about the state of the world. I got her to go to a protest with me in which she got a taste of marching in the streets to the tune of young freedom, boldness, and a willingness to fight.
She’s been telling me that the difference between how things are now and the way things were when she was growing up is how much white people care and I have to agree. I am overwhelmed by the community of white allies. White adults and even teenagers who think its a no brainer. Black. Lives. Matter. Period. When I don’t have to explain it. When a white friend can say “I know this is our fight.” When I see white people standing in between cops and black kids. The feelings I feel are all over the spectrum. It is quite a beautiful thing to see someone actually “love your neighbor as yourself”.
But the difference between these white allies and the white people my mom grew up around is their willingness to listen, to understand, to be curious, and to be compassionate towards those who are hurting. Those are the key steps to being a strong white ally.
But even so in the Black community there is an ignorance towards the LGBTQ community. I’ve been having conversations with my mom about transgendered people, how they are terribly represented in films and television, and misgendered in the media. How the gay liberation movement has left them behind over the years. I have these conversations with her because I love her and I want to give her the tools to get this right. Because even though she’s never been around a trans person I want her to be able to greet them with open arms the one day she does. We can forgive our parents by not being as open to newness as we are, but it is also our responsibility to educate them on things in the world they are not as susceptible to. We have to stop using ignorance as an excuse to have prejudice.
All. Black. Lives. Matter.
There is work to be done in every spectrum of this and it will never happen until we are willing to take the people we love by the hand and show them how much more cultured, colorful, and beautiful their lives could be if they embraced all of humanity and not just what was familiar to them.