I am normally not the type of person to make others uncomfortable. It feels wrong to me to make others feel bad about themselves. So, I try to make small changes in my own quiet ways. Usually by writing, and yes, I totally realize the irony in that statement. But for me, writing is a small way to have my voice heard.
Right now, however, I’m feeling helpless and worthless because there are terrible things going on the world over. And so, I feel it necessary to speak up now despite whatever backlash happens because I can’t take the negative impact anymore. It’s more than time we sort out the problems we are facing and help fix them instead of sitting quietly and letting things continue to happen.
Even if standing up and speaking makes me shake as if I’m experiencing an internal earthquake.
Even if my heart is racing and my blood is pounding in my ears and tears spring to my eyes.
Because I don’t want to be afraid to walk out my front door and think that somewhere someone who hates white skin is going to hurt me or my children. I don’t want to be afraid that someone is going to accuse me of being racist only because I’m white without finding out what my actual beliefs are. Especially when they have no idea that my family is part Cherokee; my Irish heritage happens to be physically more present.
I am the quintessential physical embodiment of a white woman. I have skin so fair you can trace my veins to my heart. I burn within minutes of being in the sun. My natural hair is blonde. A dirty blonde, but still, very blonde. I was white-headed (called a cotton-top) when I was a little girl and it was so white you could see I had dark roots. And I’m as blue-eyed as they come. Like all of us I did not ask to be born this way. But I was, and I’ve had to live with it all of my life. Even if I wanted my skin to be darker when I was younger because I hated being so pale. I wanted to have dark hair because I didn’t like being blonde because my family (the one I grew up in) were not blonde. I was different and I was treated differently because of it.
But I was not a quintessential white woman. I may have been blonde but was never a cheerleader or part of the popular crowd. I was the book nerd, the girl who wore glasses and whom most people thought would become a librarian. I wrote poetry and was smart. But I was quiet and tried to stay out of the center of attention because I was shy.
I had friends and knew people of all different skin colors and cultures but the only thing I ever thought about them was that they were simply people. I never thought to call them anything other than their names. Carla, Abi, Yvonne and Yvette. Tony, Martha, and Angela. Their skin or features may have depicted them as black, Hispanic, mixed…but those things never mattered to me. I didn’t know what their religion was, or their sexual preferences. It didn’t matter to me. What did matter was in how they treated others. All of them I knew and can say were friends at some point.
The attacks on blacks, on police, on France, or Turkey…anywhere really…come down to one thing for me. The actions of a few are making people react to all, and that’s unacceptable. When we allow ourselves to react to how a select few are treating all people/groups, then we become a part of the problem. We must not allow ourselves to think and act like these individuals.
Not all blacks are criminals, nor are they going to hurt others. Most are trying to live their lives the same way everyone else has the right to do.
Not all police are bad cops; most are trying to do their jobs and keep the peace. Most are trying to help.
The sexual preferences of others are their own business as are other’s choice of what gender they want to be. No one has the right to take away their choices and their decisions. The right to an opinion does not grant the right to hurt others.
Do not assume to know someone’s story until you have talked to them personally. The people who put their story online for everyone to see still have the right to be respected, even if you disagree with them.
We all should have the same privileges in rights and equality as our neighbors, yet reality proves this is not true. It’s time to change that thinking but not with violence and hatred. Nothing good has ever been accomplished with killing others, hurting others, or declaring the genocide of a culture. Why haven’t we learned this yet?
Today I am writing for 1000Speak (1000 Voices Speak for Compassion). Our goal is to promote compassion on the 20th of each month. This month’s topic was compassion and courage. My goal was to finally speak up, to have the courage to give voice to the thoughts that have been on my mind and in my heart for weeks now. There is a growing negativity in the world lately, more so than normal. Hate, violence, terror, and those trying to distract from it all.
This civil unrest must stop. It’s time to come together and work for the good of all people. It’s time to begin building bridges and closing the gaps between us all. It’s time to wake the hell up and realize, this is it, this is the only life we have, and we leave an uncertain future to our children and grandchildren who will have to make reparations for what we are doing now.
If the only good I do is with my voice and my writing then I will give my all to that. I don’t want to be an echo.
It’s up to us.