For the first time in nearly 20 months, my home is quiet this morning.
There are no giggles, no pitter patter of four tiny toddler feet or squeals when the dog tries to run away from their attempts to play with him.
I thought I would write about this. Because it is my life, the season that I am currently in. As a mom of two precious toddlers, they are my constant focus, joy and worry. But today I can’t write about them and how much I miss them while they are at school because my conscious is telling me that to be silent today would be wrong.
I’m grabbling with Charlottesville. With racism. With my brothers and sisters of color living in fear. What to do. What to say. How to be authentic and stand up for what is right, without the wrong motives.
Do I post an inspiring quote on Instagram? Do I write a small paragraph on Facebook noting my disgust for white privilege?
I can’t. Because the truth is, I would only be doing that so I feel like I am in the clear and have no responsibility for what is taking place in our country and the world.
Let me be clear, what I am writing is no way an indictment of what others do in moments of crisis. I am examining my own heart today and writing so that I have accountability for myself.
I do not consider myself to be a racist. I am aware of the privileges that I am afforded because of the country of my birth and the color of my skin. I believe that God has created each and every person on this planet in His image- even the bad guys.
But I have been convicted today.
I have two beautiful little girls. My husband and I are doing our best to teach them and shape them into kind, loving lights that radiate what Jesus has done for us. We talk about things. We participate in rallies. We try to go outside of our comfort zones. But I have this nagging feeling that this is not enough.
I’m not writing this to give myself a pat on the back for what we have tried to do to make the world a better place, I’m writing this to recognize where I have fallen short and what I can do to empower my friends who are hurting today, and every day, simply because they look different than me.
You see, it struck me last night that I will never have to have a conversation with my girls about what to do in case they are pulled over. I’ll never have to worry if they walk into a store wearing a hoodie. They can travel this world freely without fear of being detained at the border of a different country.
Some of their classmates, as young as 20 months, have parents that undoubtedly are struggling with Charlottesville and how to protect their children as they grow up. I am not burdened with this responsibility. My concerns for my girls revolve around protecting them from the influence of Disney Princesses and other sexist ways our culture tells little girls how to act. (Again, not an indictment on Disney or princesses, this is just an example to show that I don’t have to fear for my daughters’ safety or lives.)
Last night, I spent the evening wrestling with all of this. Texting friends who are wiser than me, smarter than me, looking for answers to what is weighing heavy on my soul. The truth is, it is not their responsibility to tell me what to do. They are tired. They are done trying to explain why they are systematically oppressed by our justice system. They would much rather worry about Disney Princesses than driving while black.
And then it hit me. After I already reached out to them and tapped their emotional energy, forcing them to engage in yet another conversation about race…that I’m supposed to be having those tough conversations.
All of their lives they have had no choice but to engage in these conversations and be disappointed over and over again. Knowing that Charlottesville happens every day all over our world, but we choose to ignore it.
As my husband and I talked about the importance of raising kind humans and how the greatest responsibility God has given us is that of being parents, it hit me. My girls mimic everything I do. Everything. Down to cleaning the floors and yelling at the crows in the yard. But if I’m not stepping up for my friends of color and engaging in the tough conversations, why would my children?
It’s easier for me to roll my eyes at someone’s thoughtless comments and then get in the car and privately complain about living in the South, than it is to engage in a difficult conversation right then and there.
I would much rather chalk up racism to a handful of KKK members living in the shadows, and post a Nelson Mandela quote on my Facebook wall, than speak honestly and directly to people who look just like me, and are well meaning, but may not understand how my friends of color feel.
And this is a tough pill for me to swallow. I am activist at my core. I have been involved in politics and international development and human rights since I can remember. I made a career out of it. But what do I do in my personal time? Do I step in when no one else will? Am I even paying attention to the people around me when I’m in Target or at a restaurant?
I’m not blameless. So often I use my toddlers as an excuse to isolate, disengage and just get in and get out. But my girls are watching. My friends are watching. My family is watching. God is watching.
Can I be bothered to slow down and step up?
I sure hope so. But I’m not confident others would say the same about me.
So I decided to write today. For accountability. To learn. To grow. To stretch beyond my comfort level. And most of all, I will pray. Pray for strength. Pray for courage. Pray for change not only for the world, but for myself.