I think it was mid April when I first heard the story of Ahmaud.
I have been weepy for several days now…unable to place the reasons. It occurred to me yesterday, sitting in my stillness, what was going on.
My outrage was meaningless.
I heard the story. I told my husband about it. I did nothing.
I am complicit in the perpetuation of racism for all sorts of reasons, but what strikes me is that this happened 8 weeks ago. I don’t know exactly when I read about it, but it was not recent. It got filed along with the thousands of other things that I have filed away in my head about racial violence. Awareness without action isn’t enough.
There have been other events since then that have enraged me; most notably, the impact of COVID on communities of color both in terms of access to care and enforcement of laws around social distancing and the wearing of masks. This also got filed away. Alas, knowledge, even rage, does not equal activism.
I actually had a thought last week that I was suffering burnout from reading about all the racial injustice in the world (I subscribe to a number of media outlets that track these events).
Daily. This happens daily.
Not only when white people hear about them.
They. Happen. Daily.
This thought that I could suffer burnout from just knowing about these events is not surprising. It is what I feel. But to put my head in the sand or to shut off social media, for me, equated to abandoning people I love who cannot do the same. Not only can’t my brothers and sisters of color “shut it off”, they actually have to heighten their awareness every single day. I can’t imagine wondering whether I’d get shot if I go out for a jog. Or wondering whether it was safe for my child to go to a prom or a school party. And yet, I know that people of color feel it when they come to my lovely, suburban neighborhood. They live in a state of trauma – a brain chemistry that is focused on staying alive – every day. So no, they cannot shut it off.
If I want to be in solidarity with people of color and learn from people of color, I have to listen to people of color and try to understand their experience, at whatever level my awareness allows for.
So I am here to say that I am exhausted but will never be as exhausted as a person of color.
I can no longer claim to be an advocate for racial justice without taking action against racial injustice.
I am asking for guidance. I am putting out into the universe a need for direction on what action I can take. What is next for me? Please, call me into something. In the meantime, I will seek opportunities on my own. I commit to this.
I did nothing when I heard about Ahmaud Arbery. Thankfully, others did.