A Broken Resolve
I haven’t publicly said anything…I’m still not sure exactly what to say. I have stayed silent because I know the power of words, the impact they carry, and both the life and damage they can impart. I have stayed silent as I search out my platform. We are not all meant to be social media warriors, protest organizers, or fundraiser gurus. So I write this with nervous trepidation and fervent prayers that both you and I receive it with humility.
As a justice-focused, defender, challenger, and follower of Jesus, forcing myself to sit in the ugliness of our current society has wrecked my heart. I have mourned and grieved in countless ways these past few weeks. This is heavy.
I remember being a child and asking my Southern Memaw why the lady next to me was so dark. That sweet woman leaned over and explained to me she drank too much coffee when she was a girl. This was my first interaction with a person of color.
I remember being in middle school, hearing my parents discuss the white families who moved across town so their children would not have to attend school with the Somali-American kids. I remember not understanding why they did this, and I was disgusted by what I labeled at the time as rude.
I remember being in high school, diving deep into the history of the Civil War, seeking to understand the events factually and still honor my Southern heritage. I learned slavery had nothing to do with the causes of the war – it was about state rights. I learned the Emancipation Proclamation was a political move to deprive the South of their workforce in order to secure a victory for the North. I saw that, from the beginning, the American slavery system exploited people of color. Even the act freeing them from slavery was exploitative. Freedom was an illusion…there were still chains.
There are still chains.
I will forever be grateful for my college years. For being exposed to more people, more colors, more perspectives, more stories. I will be forever grateful for the place where my wrestling started, where my eyes were first opened. I began to see the discrepancies in how I was treated…my Asian co-workers, black friends, and Latino residents were treated differently. I did not know how to reconcile society with what I believe as a genetics-minded person, and more so, as a Christ follower.
There were two women I met in college that forever changed how I view color, race. Both fiercely independent, vocal advocates, confident in their vulnerability. They believe in the power of their stories, and they taught me the power of embracing someone else’s. Both of these women are black. Not easily intimidated, they are fearless and impenetrable, yet…not afraid to share the raw brokenness of their lives. To have been given a glimpse into their world is an honor and a privilege.
I spent a summer with 20 incoming freshman…not a single one of them white. They welcomed me into their circles, embracing me, sharing their stories. I learned about all the types of black hair and some of the black male haircut trends. I sat and listened to the hard parts of growing up half-white, half-black. They did not have to open their lives in such an intimate way with me – someone who will never fully grasp their experiences. I will forever cherish my adventures with this gang – a collage of black, Asian, Native American, Latino friends. I am changed because of them.
All of them. My world has been forever altered by the folks of color who have taken the time to invest in me. I am better for it.
I have wept and sobbed over the events that have taken place – the lives that have wrongly and senselessly been lost. I have lamented the brokenness of the systems in place. Mourned for those who continue to fall through the cracks. I have prayed for responses from our nation that are positive, moving change forward and not harming what progress is happening. I have clapped for the officers across the country who acknowledge that all is not right and who kneel in uniform next to their black brothers and sisters protesting in the streets and parks. I have held dear in my heart the people of color, hurting and exhausted and broken.
My soul screams for justice. I am forced again and again to remind myself that there is a just and wrathful God who will set the world straight. Again and again, I force myself to rest in the knowledge that He, too, weeps right now, indignant with how His children are treating their family. We are all image-bearers.
So I, too, protest. I protest the unjust ways of our system. I protest the unfair treatment of black men and women. I protest the police officers who have been allowed to operate without accountability and beyond the rules. I protest the systemic ways our family of color is continually taken advantage of. I protest the ways people turn their backs on what matters. I protest actions drawing attention away from the actual issue. I protest standing by, afraid to say something. I protest ignorance and the lack of education.
This is my platform.
I am proud to come alongside my brothers and sisters of color, putting an arm around their shoulder and fortifying them. You matter. You are seen and heard and loved. Your voice matters. Your life matters. Your future matters.
There is no fix, no solution. This is a harsh and broken world. It will never be right. But I will be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, the one to ask how you are actually. I will be the one to defend you when you are too exhausted, the one to stand up for you so you can rest. I will be a place of refuge, a place of safety, a place committed to doing better and loving better because He loved me first.
This world will never see you the way you are meant to be seen…that is a crushing reality that breaks my heart into a million pieces. But in my eyes, I promise to see you as you were created to be – precious, treasured, esteemed, chosen. You are this and more.
You do not stand alone. You do not fight alone. You do not hurt alone. I know you are tired. I know you are exhausted. I know you want to stop fighting for the privilege to breathe, to exist, to be.
Don’t. Though your skin was originally designed to protect you from the sun, it now has so much meaning. It is a symbol of perseverance and strength. Of trials overcome, battles hard-fought, inching forward and making history, over and over and over. Don’t stop. You have a legacy.
I am not finished in my journey, either. I will never be finished. I will continue to learn. To be corrected. To seek truth and justice. I will continue to love and love better – to grow. I will lead in my circles, in my spheres of influence, with peace and truth. I will turn my feet forward – learning from the past but refusing to live in it. Hands open and eyes wide, I stand with my family of color.