We can pretty much all agree that this year has been hard. It would be very easy for me to make a mile long list of all the things we already know that have burdened our minds and realities. At the onslaught of the covid-19 pandemic I hyped myself up to keep tabs on my mental health. Through crazy work hours, no work for a month and intense anxiety around the health of my loved ones, I somehow managed to stay on top of it. I was actually pretty proud of myself. Then something entirely different happened. I had seen and been outraged by all the emerging footage of police brutality towards people of color (most specifically black people). In a weird and fucked up way I was starting to get used to it. I knew how to self reflect and to have conversations and I knew a lot of others who did too but that really wasn't enough and we all knew it. When the news of George Floyds death emerged I had gotten to a point where all this senseless death was leaving me numb and more comfortable in my four walls than I should ever have been. This was the state of our country. We've gotten so used to seeing bad things and not knowing what to do, then seeing more bad things and not knowing how to tackle it, so we don't.
When the video footage of George Floyd's murder at the hands of a policeman emerged something in the plastic static of quarantine and self doubt broke. Despite having anticipated this since my early teens I did not see it coming. Suddenly everyone was in the streets. Suddenly people that I love were subjected to violence. Suddenly my home town was in shambles.
I've been to lots of protests (mostly in my formative years) and I've seen riots and looting on tv. I've never seen all those things together in my hometown. Never.
It is very scary to think that downtown had been ravaged and those standing up in the name of peace were attacked both literally and in the media.
After having some honest discussions with several people, I decided I needed to make my position on the matter known and to place myself into the midst of it all. Doing this was both invigorating and demoralizing at times. I have made myself very open to others thoughts. Putting myself in a place to provide support particularly with the objective to help carry on discussions with my white friends and family and to offer as much clarity and compassion as possible. This has left me vulnerable and I am very bruised and saddened. My feelings are hurt at some of the disregard and hostility that I've encountered. I am tired. Most of us are tired but we keep going don't we.
Black Lives Matter. There's a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about what saying the words Black Lives Matter even means. What's the difference between the organization and the hashtag? Are they the same? In some cases yes, in some cases no. The only way any of it even matters is if we can step back enough to see the context. Systemic (relating to a system) racism (prejudice or discrimination on the bases of race) exists. This isn't some made up shit, it's real. Not everyone gets it and that's a hard truth for me.
There are some discussions which I have partaken in that have left me raw and hurt and afraid. I don't know where to go from here but I know I have to keep going.
You cannot blame the other for not going along with your way. If you are blaming, you are turning away from your own responsibility to find a way forward. LIKE IT OR NOT WE DO THIS TOGETHER.
So that's where I'm at with all this.
I don't know where we are going but this might be the only way out of that broken and rotten place we've grown to call home. Sometimes the only way out of the storm is through it. So we go through it.
Leigh Anne Night