This Feels Heavy. And it Should.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Why does this feel so heavy?

In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests and marches, there’s been this huge lump in my throat that won’t go away. I call it a “tear ball”. It’s a ball of sadness, for sure, but it’s different. It’s heavier. Because it’s also mixed with a huge amount of guilt and, frankly, shame.

I even feel guilty writing about this because the worst I have to suffer is the fact that I feel guilty and shameful. That’s my biggest grievance…an uncomfortable feeling. I have never had to worry about being judged unfairly just by the way I look. I have never once worried about living in a nice neighborhood and hoping that I will be accepted. I’ve never thought twice about my life being in danger when being pulled over. And I’ve certainly never had to worry about my little boys being killed for no reason other than how they look.

I also don’t know why on Earth I’m just now realizing how fucked up this all is.

And that is troubling.

I heard about these innocent lives lost before and I saw the photos in the news and I read about the protests and the black lives matter movement and I agreed that it wasn’t right but then I went about my life. I wasn’t outraged when things didn’t change and, to be honest, it was because I knew subconsciously that it didn’t affect me. I could still claim to be on the right side because I supported the rights of those who protested and voted in alignment to candidates that validated their fight. I was friendly with Black people and believed and acted in the creed of treating all with equal respect. But this is what I am just now realizing: that wasn’t enough. That isn’t enough. And why should it be?

We, the White people of America, have (unjustifiably) held this place of superiority for so long, it’s been so ingrained into us throughout generations and our history has been so white-washed that we don’t even realize we are doing something wrong anymore. I’m guilty of this! I thought that by offering my sympathy to those victims and passively supporting those that were fighting the good fight, that I was doing enough. Hashtagging where appropriate. Part of this is because, like many of my like-minded peers, we are also fighting our own fight. We’ve got bills to pay, and soul-crushing debt that’s accrued, and time and energy sucking jobs, and a lot of times we are also raising a family, and working through minor crises here and there and building our careers, and it’s all very draining. But, here’s the thing — we don’t have the added burden of our race being an obstacle. It’s like we are all running this same rat race but some of us ( Black Americans) have an added weight on their bodies. How is that even remotely fair? Or right? Why have we continued on as if this is ok?

Why are we just now feeling outraged? I honestly feel like this veil has been lifted and there are many of us who are stunned like,“DOH! So that’s what they’ve been trying to tell us!”

I feel outraged at MYSELF!

I am that stereotypical liberal white girl who claims to be tolerant, open-minded, fighting for justice, all about peace and love but, my god, what does that even mean if you can’t fight for the thing that’s happening right here in your very own country? Your very own city? Right in front of you?

I will never know the struggle of life for a Black person in America. I will never feel the same pains, and I will never have the same fears. I know I’ve never done anything personally to cause harm or have never treated anyone differently based on their race. I’ve been horrified by racism of the past. I’ve celebrated the many victories of black people in America. I was brought to tears of joy at the election of Obama.

“We did it,” I remember saying.

But what I’m just now realizing is that it takes a hell of a lot more than that to root out this horrible, nasty, insidious thing called racism. It is so prevalent that we don’t even see it all around us. Or within us. Complacency only helps keep racism alive.

Until now.

So, now that the veil’s been lifted, what are we going to do about it?

#blacklivesmatter #blacklivesareworthy #blacklivesarevalued #demandjustice #makeachange