This has been a very upsetting couple of weeks, but if you’re paying attention you already know that. Because of the continuing pandemic, I choose to be mostly homebound, writing, reading, zooming, watching fun stuff on TV like Star Trek and Christopher Guest mockumentaries. But this week I could barely tear myself away from CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, and the Washington Post website, anxious to find out what was happening across the country, anxious to know what was happening in my own home town which has endured its share of looting. I am so upset about the militaristic response of our president, about reports of police violence toward peaceful protesters and journalists. But this needs to be said: THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME. This is not about the distress of white people.
So please ignore any melodramatic hand-wringing you may perceive in my post. Sorry about that. I’m learning. I want to learn.
I’ve been feeling bad because I don’t want to go out and join the marchers due to the pandemic. I feel cowardly, and yet I feel this is the best decision for my health and the health of my loved ones. This morning it occurred to me that this may be a blessing in disguise. If I went out and marched I might feel all warm and fuzzy and self-righteous, and then I could call it a day. Can’t do that now. Now I’ve got to get serious.
I’ve been searching on line for organizations I can back with money. I’ve gotten emails with suggestions from politicians I support and writers I follow. I’ve also heard celebrities on news and talk shows plug their favorite groups. So I’ve begun the journey of visiting websites to see who does what with their donations. I have no recommendations at this time, but I am open to your ideas in this area as well. Will keep you all posted.
A friend has told me about a group that distributes post cards and address lists so we at home may address and write cards to individuals, encouraging folks to get out and vote. This seems small, but it is important work. Will let you know when I learn more about this too.
The time has come for us white people to get serious about educating ourselves. There are lists of anti-racists books floating around the internet, but right now I’m only going to mention one: White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. (Learn more here.) In my humble opinion, all white people should read this book.
I also want to share one article, actually the transcript of an interview on NPR with Alex S. Vitale, the author of The End of Policing. (Read here.) Vitale has a hopeful vision where police officers are allowed to police, and social workers, health professionals and teachers are given the resources they need so that tension don’t escalate to a point where the police have to be called in. When you see the hashtag #DefundThePolice, THIS is what we’re talking about. Of course we need the police as community peacekeepers, but we need other professionals to do what they do best too. What Vitale is advocating is true systemic change, which is why I want to promote his ideas.
Finally, as always, I turn to prayer at times like these. This week I was inspired to get out my rosaries as my mother taught me to do decades ago. I also offer the following:
I pray and affirm that we open our hearts and allow these times to change us.
We have seen a lot of public demonstrations of anger and frustration in recent days. I invite you to let go of the images of angry signs, yelling, marchers blocking major streets and highways, of smashed windows, looted stores, and fires.
Think instead about why they march: the murder of black and brown men and women, the harassment of women of color, the fact people of color may feel they have no recourse when there is trouble because it is not safe for them to call the police, the disproportionate amount of poverty, homelessness and disease in communities of color. Think of this and imagine how you would feel if this were happening to your family.
I am not condoning rioting and violence, but urging everyone to look beyond it for a least a few moments. If you are safe inside, perhaps still “sheltering” as I am, it is not your job to control any thieves or vandals. Please focus on the bigger picture. How can we be humble enough to listen, to learn, to change?
Please pray with me.