This is the blog I almost didn’t write. I am heartbroken for my city, for my friends of color, for my friends in one of the greatest police departments in the nation, for us all. Thursday, July 7, 2016 has become a significant date now in the history archives of our nation and our great city of Dallas. I have a few thoughts on this but, before I unload those thoughts, let me backtrack to a little incident that occurred at a friend’s home the evening of July 4th.
We were a small group, adults and young children, all of which I knew except for one couple. We shared niceties, dinner, chatting about our recent move, our families, etc. Then, as the firework show began, we each nestled into our “viewing chairs” and enjoyed a fantastic 15 minutes of booms, pops and a lit-up sky all accompanied by patriotic music in the background. So much fun! Then, when the fireworks show ended, one of the hosts announced that she had patriotic cake and cookies inside. Immediately, the troop of kids followed her in, while most of the adults remained in the driveway for a few minutes longer. One of the guests brought up the presidential election. Uh-oh. My husband, who is pretty passionate about this crazy race, made an excellent choice to go inside and join the kids for some dessert. Good choice, honey. The other host jokingly made a statement about teaching his children that everyone has a respected right to their opinion and their vote and that even though he and I were probably voting differently, he still liked hanging out with me. (insert laughter by most of the guests here) Then, one of the men I did not know came barreling towards me and immediately began calling me an “f****ng idiot” and, when our host tried to keep things light and calm him down, he barreled at me again and said, and I quote, “you are an f****ng whore” multiple times, louder each time, in my face. I was stunned, startled, embarrassed, unsure of what to do (those of you who know me know that I DO NOT TALK ABOUT POLITICS publicly) and, as I heard the kids come running back outside, I walked away. I went inside, asked Scott if we could go ahead and go, and we left quickly. I was teary-eyed all the way home. I could not understand how someone who did not know anything about me could abhor me so violently and attack me with such venom because of a vote that I might make in November. I was going to write about this situation and talk about “The Courage to Walk Away.”
And then July 7, 2016 in Dallas, TX happened. My reaction might surprise you.
I watch the news almost daily, just to find out “what is going on the world” that might impact me individually or my family for that day. I have continued to follow the very sad situations in other cities of the highly suspicious police brutality towards men of color. I have watched (from afar, I admit) as my girlfriends of color with husbands, teen sons or children have expressed fear for their loved ones who might have a target on their back by virtue of the color of their skin. But on Thursday night, the ambush-style targeted shooting of Dallas and Dart Police Officers changed everything for me, a middle-class, white woman born and raised in a high-tax-bracket neighborhood. The next day, our Police Chief’s words at a press conference, as he shared some of the “statements made by the prime suspect during negotiation efforts” terrified me, especially when he repeated the suspect’s words, “I want to kill white people, especially the white police officers.” Wait. Was he talking about me? Was that suspect challenging any crazy with a gun in our gun-toting state to go out and “kill white people?” I was scared.
That is when I thought about my girlfriends of color fearful for the lives of their loved ones. That is when I thought about my friends with different sexual preferences than mine, being gunned down in a public place. That is when I felt about 1/1000th of what these friends of mine feel on a daily basis. Shame on me for taking so long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover, not a hater. I’m an “includer,” not an excluder. But to truly feel, in the depths of my being, a profound sadness for US ALL, is a step closer to self-awareness.
So my message this week is NOT about having the courage to walk away. You see, walking away when you are verbally attacked, when you are baited, when your blood is boiling as you read the ridiculous, angry posts on today’s social media—YES, that does take strength. But that is only half of the equation of true courage. We need to find a way to join forces, stand united, start the conversation and we cannot do this if we let HATRED stand in our way. We need to FIND OUR VOICE and, folks, this is not a political voice. This is a voice that LISTENS to each other; this is a voice that RESPECTS our differences, even when we don’t understand them; this is a voice that CHERISHES those who daily work to ensure our safety, but that also is a voice that SPEAKS LOUDLY when we know there is injustice; this is a voice that prays for peace for each other, for our cities, for our country. And our voice, SHE friends, is NOT the voice of a slanted media story or a politician saying anything to get elected.
Your voice, She friends, cannot come from a place of hatred or anger.
We are all shedding tears together but we must understand the pain behind those tears, as it is so very different for so many people.
When you change your profile picture to show support for the “injustice of the day,” do you have the love, support and respect in your heart to back it up? When you hit the “Like” button on someone’s rant or post, are you doing so because everyone else can see your “Like” or do you truly agree with what you are seeing/reading? Do you have the courage to walk away from the baiting and negativity, yet step up and find your voice when you hear or see an injustice being done? If finding your voice is a post on social media or a picture on Instagram, you need to dig deeper for that courage.
I am a praying woman and I have a LOT of praying to do. Yes, #blacklivesmatter. Yes, #alllivesmatter. Yes, #prayfordallas. Yes, #prayfororlando. Yes, #standunited.
I’m probably not going to a public rally, holding a sign at a protest or lobbying legislature. But I am going to spend some time, alone with myself, and figure out what my voice is and where/how I can use it for greater good.
I don’t have to look like you, vote like you, agree with you…but I will listen to you and I will respect you. Always. I am hurting with you. No, I probably “don’t understand” the depths of your pain and fear. But I am here with you, trying to find my voice. For myself, for my children, for our future – I am here with you.
Oh, and by the way, I am not a “f****ng whore.” Just sayin’.
Note from the SHE Files:
It takes strength to walk away; it takes courage to FIND YOUR VOICE