Let me start this off by saying that I cherish each and every one of you, whether I’ve just met you recently or have known you for a long time (some since childhood). You wouldn’t be my friend if we didn’t have one thing in common: a respect for life in all its myriad shapes, sizes, and colors. Not just human life, but life in all aspects.
Let me also preface this by saying that while this is addressed to all my white friends, you are all going to read it differently. Some of you are going to take it personally. If you do think I am talking directly to or about you, that is of course your choice, but I ask that you take a moment to think about why your defense mechanisms immediately went up.
Some of you (those that at least pay attention on social media) may have noticed a slight shift in me lately. I’m still the same old me – loving, kind and compassionate. Goofy. Possibly too involved with my dogs. But I’m also not the same. I’m angry, and no longer willing to stand aside when I see injustice done to others, especially to people of color. I’m speaking out, yelling out in fact and I know it’s uncomfortable. I’m facing my own racist tendencies (and all white people have them – don’t deny it – if you’re white, you have benefitted from a racist system and that’s just how it is in this world) and doing what I can do be ANTI-racist. I’m not doing it perfectly, as I’m not a perfect person. I’ve probably pissed a lot of you off in some way or another. But I will not apologize for being on this journey of self-reflection and growth into a better person for ALL people, especially the BIPOC in my life and my community.
Some of you have shown support to me during this journey and I thank you for it. Others, it is obvious you have no clue that it’s even happening. I realize not everyone uses social media the same way – some prefer theirs to be carefully curated to show only the good stuff. I use mine to communicate honestly to my many friends around the world, in full honesty, what’s going on in my life. That again is your choice. It’s also your choice to retreat from it all – to turn off social media or the TV news and pretend like none of the unrest in our country is happening; that black people aren’t being gunned down by police for ridiculous reasons. But BIPOC cannot turn off the color of their skin when they walk out their doors like they can turn off the TV. You have a privilege that they do not have. You are not literally faced with the choice of going out into the world and possibly not going home that day because of the color of your skin.
My liberal progressive, or liberal moderate friends, so often I wonder – where are you? I know in your hearts you support the movement I’m a part of. I think, “Well…they must! I mean, I’ve seen the ‘Black Lives Matter’ stuff they posted”. I’ve seen you at the safe protests. Where are they? Where’s the outrage at what’s happening in the city they live in? At the police brutalizing young people and teenagers (and their disabled friend – me) during a peaceful protest and protecting white supremacist counter protesters that came from out of town to torment us?
I recognize that everyone has a different way of managing anxiety. This entire year has been an exercise in learning how to manage your anxiety. I manage mine by funneling it into action. If I see something that causes me anxiety, or anger, I try to DO something to alleviate it, if I can. I turn that bad anxiety into good. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away because it’s still going to be there the next time I turn on the TV or social media. I can’t ignore what’s going on if I care about the people in my life and community. I realize that not everyone manages their stress and anxiety the same way but hiding from reality isn’t (IMO) helping anyone. I’m not even sure it’s helping you since the cause still exists when you come back to reality. Remember that I am the friend that says the hard things others won’t say to you, not the things you want to hear.
To those white acquaintances that tend to be more of a middle of the road/conservative bent (and I do have a few)…well, I don’t really know what to say to you. I see your posts and cannot for the life of me understand your logic. I can’t understand how you rescue animals, would give the shirt off your back for a dog and yet swallow the propaganda from the right-based media hook, line and sinker. You cry about some boy murdered (and his murderer caught) but kids in cages at the border are somehow ignored. All lives matter but they won’t matter until Black Lives Matter and the black child in your home KNOWS THAT. They know that, they hear the things you say and they are ingesting the hurtful, hateful things and will be telling it all to their therapist when they grow up. I pray for them.
I was once respectful of police and the difficult job they have but after seeing up close and personal how they cherry pick which laws to enforce, or make them up as they go along, I’m pretty well done with respecting police until the whole system is reformed. Our military troops overseas have more rules of engagement with foreign terrorists and what they can do during a WAR than our police do with our own citizens. I’m finished with excuses. “Stop resisting”, or “just comply” will be met with more resistance. This country, may I remind you, was BUILT on resistance. Resistance of authoritarian regimes is the hallmark of freedom. And police forces engaging in unlawful arrests of peaceful protesters is an authoritarian regime, violation of the First Amendment and I wouldn’t be a good American Citizen if I didn’t RESIST. Change comes from within. There needs to be sweeping change, alleged criminals deserve their day in court, ALIVE.
And as of right now, I am a “criminal”. I have been charged with two misdemeanors. Me. The honor-roll, Dean’s List, top of the class, never did anything wrong, creator of the longest-running pagan festival on Long Island, had a song written about her, been quoted I-don’t-know-how-many-times-by-how-many-people, helped run a well-respected rescue, goody-two-shoes.
I’ll end this here: Again – we wouldn’t be associating with each other if we didn’t share something in common. Some of you I’ve known my entire life and you’ve known me since I was a goofy kid in pigtails and braces. Some of you grew up with me, watched me grow from a shy Christian kid who loved animals and wanted to be a vet into a rather strange pagan woman who loves animals (some things never change) and is pretty outspoken. Some of you are associates only know through rescue activities or some other thing we’ve done together. If you see yourself in what I’ve written here, good or bad or in between…know that I write this with love in my heart. I am trying to understand myself and my new journey and where I fit in this new world that is building around me. And perhaps, where you fit in that journey with me.