Today, I find myself swallowing the hard pill of taking my own advice.
I’ve been pouring my heart into supporting other women in honoring their intuition, while also recognizing the fear that may be holding them back, and now my opportunity to truly practice has shown up.
My heart is telling me to stand for the black community and speak openly, but my fear is saying:
“Who the hell are you as a white woman to pretend to understand?”
“Who are you, the mother of two white children, to speak out, when you can’t possibly know what it’s like to fear for your children’s lives because of their skin color?”
“Who the hell do you think YOU are?”
Yet today, I find myself leaning into the discomfort, recognizing my fear, and shaking as I type these words. But I am choosing to honor my intuition that is clearly saying…
“Speak your truth, right or wrong, and ask for help.”
Why would I need help and how could I possibly turn someone else’s burden, or better stated, the burden of an entire community, into a request for myself?
My request isn’t about ‘understanding’ what it’s like to be black in America, because I could never truly understand. Although I’ve told myself over and over, “I want to understand. I want to be right there with you so I can be a partner in making the world better” the truth is, deep down, I don’t. I can’t stomach the idea of that level of pain, injustice, and exhaustion. I can’t imagine tucking my babies into bed at night and telling them to say their prayers while I pray that God protects them from others who may hate them because of their skin color. I can’t imagine preparing them to be safe by expecting discrimination for just being BORN!
No, I’m not asking to understand, because that's not possible. Rather, I am asking to be educated as a white mother who isn’t sure what to say to her daughters, and sometimes even to herself, anymore.
As feelings of rage, exhaustion, and desperation take over following the latest two murders of black men in America; Ahmad Aubrey in Georgia where I live, and George Floyd in Minnesota where many of my friends live, I realize the part I’m playing will no longer do. What I’ve been saying to my daughter’s isn’t enough and my selective-silence is deadly.
As I watched my red-headed nine-year-old playing with her friends last weekend, I cried. Although she’s been picked on for the color of her hair, the positioning of her teeth, her weight, and her clothes, there is still an air of innocence about her. I want so badly to hold onto the innocence, but I realize the time has come, if it isn’t already long overdue, to talk with her about my truth.
The truth is, we can’t pretend to be colorblind.
The truth is, there is a delicate balance between treating others as equals while honoring their diversity, their story, and their heart.
The truth is, she is hearing different ‘life lessons’ at home than some of her closest friends.
The truth is, she has never feared for her life because of the color of her skin, but her friends may.
The truth is, if they choose to share their fear, sadness, and anger with her, her heart may feel as if it’s breaking, but the truth is, she can’t truly understand what it’s like.
And the truth is, where I once thought I knew how to guide her and her baby sister on the topic of racism, I now realize, as a white mother, I have no damn clue.
So, as scary as it was to write these words and accept my flaws, I am honoring my heart and being vulnerable, because I can’t expect change without changing.
“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
I am humbly asking mothers of the black community to please guide me to guide my children.
While I can pretend to know what to say, I don't. Words are powerful, but I can’t seem to find the ‘right ones’ for something that I feel is so horribly wrong. This hatred, this loss of precious life, has to end, but I don’t know how to do my part alone.
Today, I am honoring my own feelings and I am honoring the mothers whose pain I can never understand. My heart is heavy and I can longer accept the way things are... and I need your guidance.
With all of my love and respect… from one mother to another…