I’m trying to remember when I first learned in depth about the Civil Rights Movement.
I’m sure I got some of my information from school, although I cannot remember learning about it any of my classes.
(Full disclosure: I don’t remember much that I learned in high school other than math and science were really hard and I liked my lit and writing teachers. This is always coming back to me when my kids talk about how deeply passionate they are about the periodic table and fractions.
My girl wants to be a scientist. If I wasn’t there at their delivery I may not believe we are related. Seriously, if you know my kids, you know this is a REAL THING)
Again, not sure where I got the info about the Civil Rights Movement but, when I lived in Jackson, Mississippi we made plenty of trips to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and to Alabama’s Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. There, I learned a lot. From my friends who were alive during segregation and from the stories that were retold before my eyes. I saw the hotel balcony MLK died on and the room across the street where the gun was fired.
Where the heck were my mom and dad while this was going on?
Did they know this was happening?
Why weren’t they there?
Did they say anything?
What did this look like in Detroit?
We watch the films, we hear the stories and we think- why didn’t everyone rush to be part of this movement? Well, that’s where my mind goes. And my heart. Cause I feel it ALL. This is my blessing and my curse. It can energize me, but it can also forcefully take me down.
They may not have marched at the time, but they have since. My dad and mom were the ones who first taught me so much about injustice. They were the ones who raised me outside the comfortable bubble of the white middle class we could have nested in. And while my privilege is still a huge part of my life, I saw much more than I ever would have because of them. My friends, my neighborhood, my church, my books…. all influenced by their passion.
I don’t think they didn’t participate because they they didn’t care. They CARE. I think it was a matter of connection and awareness.
Today, we do not have this to use as an excuse.
The internet and television do not allow us to look away or stay completely blind to the issues. We can watch videos or hear talks. We can read news articles or listen to interviews. The tension is there and if we don’t want to deal with it, it’s our choice to look away.
This is where I’m trying to g0-
I am 100% sure that my kids will look back in history and wonder where I was at this moment.
Or maybe, they will just remember what they saw.
Either way, I know it matters. My life and my voice.
I have nothing profound to say and no arguments that are game changers. But I do have to ability to put these words out for my world to see.
Racism is a huge problem. It’s systemic and it’s personal. It’s a matter of faith and it’s a matter of politics. If you say it doesn’t apply to you, you have chosen to look away. It applies to us all.
I have no answers, just presence.
I’m here and I care. I will not be silent as we stand at the edge of this moment in our country where the truth of so many of our feelings are mashed up into one volatile presidential candidate. (Or several, but one super honest one.)
In any way you can, speak out for justice and speak out for love.
Our children are watching.