Life Event: Charlottesville

I almost posted Sunday. That is when I saw the news. Saturday I had disconnected and was (blessedly) unaware of what went down “in real time.” I saw blessedly because I’ve seen streams of tweets and such that made things sound WORSE then reality – so by only reading up later I was able to not even believe “dozens were killed.”

I decided to wait, let the heat cool and my anger lower to a simmer.  Originally, the plan was “when I’m not angry” but I’ve realized that isn’t going to happen.

I’m not going to stop being angry.

How can anyone be anything less than infuriated? How do some of these folks sleep at night knowing they don’t care enough to be bothered by this? My husband can attest I’ve been having nightmares every night this week – and I wake up angry. How did they go to church on Sunday morning and not weep at the tragedy occurring in our country?

History has hundreds of examples where persecution and oppression are wrong. From witches to warriors; from religion to race. We look back on the foolishness of believing a woman is a witch with the same disdain we look on “humors” in healing. We revere the service of our warriors even when we  do not support the wars they fought in because there were too many stories of soldiers coming home and suffering for things they had no power over. We look down on the inquisition. We look down on pouring salt along a windowsill. We grimace at the idea of slavery.

When someone says “This other person is LESS than I am because….” they are wrong.

Period.

Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.

This idea of “greater than” and “less than” filters through so much of our society and it is evil. Whether it is the CEO who mistreats a filing clerk or a white person abusing a black person it is evil. And I do mean “necromancer killing people in order to bring them back as slave-zombies” level of evil. Let that CEO fire every file clerk and then ask for a file – won’t even know where to look.  Try to put a white man in the life of a black woman and he would curl up in a ball and weep at how much it hurts (you have no idea how much I sometimes wish I could do this to some people…!)

I don’t tell people of color their stories and experiences are wrong, because they aren’t. Could they have assumed a negative meaning that was never implied? Yup. Absolutely. But you know what, what is meant and was is communicated can be different things.

God knows, I still screw it up. What the person in front of me hears and what I wanted to convey could be off the mark.  I mean, who hasn’t had the conversation where you said something and everyone busted out laughing? You sit and think a moment and realize what you said was sooooo sexual.  You didn’t intend it to be funny or punny or sexual – but it was communicated regardless of your intent.

Intent matters, but it isn’t enough. When someone says, “I know you didn’t intend to, but what you said was hurtful” – you apologize. We’ve all said something stupid.

And apologies are hard. Especially when you really, really didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Defensive is a normal response. That doesn’t make it the right response. Apologies are even harder when you don’t feel like what you did was really wrong. But guess what, you still hurt someone else and most every three-year-old can tell you when you hurt someone’s feelings you’re supposed to apologize. Even when you don’t understand.

So, I am sorry:

I am sorry that sometimes I go inside, close the door and cry in private instead of running into the streets to join you. I know this entitled of me.

I am sorry you feel the mosquito bites of fear, harassment, and prejudice every day.

I am sorry for the hurtful things I said that I didn’t intend to hurt.

I am sorry that so many are willing to stand silently by while you are bullied, beaten, and killed.

I am sorry I wasn’t standing in front of you to protect you from them.

 

I am sorry I can’t make them understand.

I am sorry I don’t yell louder.

I am sorry.

I am sorry.

I will do better. I will speak louder. I will stand up to the people you shouldn’t have to.  I will never shut my eyes and ears to your words. I will learn from my mistakes and go on to doing better.  I will protect your safe spaces where you can turn off the world. I will listen and learn – and I will argue with the people who can’t hear you but can hear me because of something stupid like the color of my skin.

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