“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”—Angela Davis, academic and political activist
Real talk, America. We are truly in the midst of an epidemic. Racism is a disease. And it hides in un-examined hearts. My pastor doesn’t let us leave on Sundays before he’s asked us to examine our hearts. Why don’t we all do that everyday? We examine our reflections. We examine our weight. Our grey hair and bald spots. Why wouldn’t we want to examine our hearts and challenge anything malignant sitting there, and remove any hate or contempt we are holding against our neighbor? So, I’m examining my heart, and I wanted to share it with you.
It’s taken me all my life to realize I was gifted, if not tasked, in the areas of listening and problem-solving. This is how I experience the world, and how I intend to better it. I’ve taken a diet of music and most media since the day we heard that George Floyd died, and all of the chaos that ensued. If you know me, you know that I love music. I weave it into everything I do. I didn’t even realize I was doing it at first, kind of like when you turn down the radio to make a turn. It just seems like a perfect time to stop the music and listen, to deliberately focus our thoughts on the situation at hand and assess our part in it. In order to do that, we must listen to the voices outside, as well as the little voice inside. And I don’t mean we need to listen for a chance to respond with some canned answer, some indoctrinated shotgun-type response already in the barrel. We need to listen, so that we can understand. If you, like me, don’t understand exactly how we got here, we probably don’t know the full story. And to do that, we must listen to all sides. I, for one, have enjoyed a life made rich and full by friendships with people I have loved like brothers and sisters, people whose whole realities are shaken by this, every single time; and I feel like I owe it to all of them to take a pause, to stop the music, to do an assessment of the situation, and to do whatever I know how to do to fix it. Because right now, the eyes of their little ones are watching what we do, and what we do now is going to shape their reality much more than what we say. And I feel like I owe it to these wonderful little people, and to the beautiful friends they remind me so much of, to take them into consideration, to keep the conversation going, and to uphold the ideals of the America we promised them.
Exposure as an Antidote to Racism
I lived in a few different places growing up, so skin color was not much more to me than a part of the scenery. Always being the new kid, I learned how to sit back and listen, and get to know people by how they feel, how they talk, and how they treat other people. Skin color had no bearing on any of those things. The schools I went to were public and they had to have a certain amount of diversity to operate. Exposure to different people was mandatory. And do you know what happened? We learned from each other. We figured out puzzles together. We made beautiful music, together. We won competitions together, and we became better, together. That was in grade and middle school, and that has never changed for me, and I have that experience to lean on when I meet new people, and when I make new friends.