On the morning of Monday, June 1st, I woke with tears streaming down my face. I was startled by the awareness that I had been crying even in my sleep. It’s been an emotional number of days for me and for many people. I was devastated to watch the video a week ago of George Floyd lying on the street as he called out for officer who held him to the ground to allow him to breathe. While this video stirred deep emotions within me, I pause and consider a few things.
First, I acknowledge that every day across this land of the free and the home of the brave, people of color are sometimes seen as suspect, viewed in fear, and receive harsher treatment than their white counterparts. These are all aspects of life that I have no knowledge or experience. I don’t receive a suspicious glance, no one crosses the street when I approach and I am quite comfortable driving or walking through any community I choose. How weary my brothers and sisters of color must be of this perpetual struggle.
Second, I realize that the following mornings, I woke up and went about my day. Yes, I was thoughtful of Mr. Floyd’s grieving family, friends, and community, yet I went about business as usual. In fact, Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, I was out kayaking Lake Ray Hubbard. I was brought front and center to the reality of the black community with each visit to the internet. I could turn it off or on any time I chose. This is an enormous privilege. I have the ability to turn off or tune in to the burdens of another person’s life at will. This tells me that I will never know the depth of pain and suffering or the heights of joys and gladness of my brothers and sisters of color. I can still have compassion.
Third, I admit that because I check the box for white, there is a certain amount of privilege that comes along with that. In training to be a volunteer for a local crisis line, we participated in an exercise to see firsthand the privilege each of us experienced in our lives. There were some who experience a bit more privilege than me and there were many who experienced much, much less privilege than me. I am compelled to use this privilege for good. There is an invitation for all of us to recognize our status and to use it for good.
Fourth, I am called to action. By practicing our fifth Unity principle, I am called to not just walk away, not just ignore when a person is participating in racist remarks. I am invited to “call people out”. Not to embarrass or chastise rather to call others into a higher way of showing up as their divine self - who they truly are. I am called to invite anyone who is speaking or acting in ways that disparage others to remember the divinity of themselves as well as the divinity of those whom the disparage. I keep in mind that these are kind, gentle conversations.
Fifth, I remember to stay in regular communication with my elected officials. Also, I remember to vote in every election! It is good for me to exercise the power of my vote – my voice. When I communicate with those who represent me in local, state or national government, I thank them for the work they do. I thank them for supporting the causes and concerns that are valuable to me. I ask them to reconsider their personal viewpoint for what I see as the greater good for the masses. Oh yes, I also remind them when they vote in ways that are contrary to my beliefs and values.
Sixth, I remember that it is vital to have conversations that educate and enlighten myself to have a better understanding of the lives of others. Today that would be the lives of people who check any box other then “white”. It is important for me to deeply understand, not as a sound bite or a devastatingly horrible video rather an understanding of the daily lives of persons of color.
Finally, I am constantly reminded that “love heals” is more than a appealing quote. After all, we just spent the month of May talking about that very subject. My heart swells with love as I gather the image of family, friends, our spiritual community. As I extend love and compassion to those who are suffering, those who are grieving, those who are calling for love, those who feel left out of the goodness of our country, my heart expands even further. There is no end to who I can wrap in my heart with the power of love. I believe as I embrace more and more people into my heart, compassion and peace grows even greater.
I acknowledge that this is one of many topics that I feel passionate about. Today, relationship with people of color is compelling and that is what presses most firmly on my heart. My heart’s desire is to not allow the conversations to cease until we can see all people of our communities to live with liberty and justice for all. I don’t want this conversation to fade as the days go on and we settle into the same old way of being. If I have seen, heard, and learned anything it is our attention span quickly moves from one topic to another very easily.
I also recognize there are many groups of people who feel ostracized. My intention is to honor each person and each group for the gift they bring to the world and the unique expression of God each person is. I also recognize there may be people who do not share my thoughts. We are all free to think and conclude what is true and right guided by the divine wisdom that is our birthright. I honor your thoughts and opinions even if they are different than mine.