It’s been a while since I’ve written. In the time since I last touched these keys to blog the world seems to have become a very different place than it was just months ago. First Covid, then the great racial awakening and so many things, struggles and discoveries in between.
Towards the end of February, during one of my Tuesday night bible study groups, one of the ladies mentioned her friend who worked in one of the larger hospital systems in the area had been in lock-down meetings regarding the possibility of a pandemic scenario. WHAT? What does that mean.
She went on to share that it would mean a bit of isolation and literal lock-down in our homes. Being raised in America, I couldn’t fathom the government stepping in to that level and impeding my freedoms.
Yes, I was beginning to hear the rumblings of how terrible COVID-19 might be. The respiratory failure, the ravaging of one’s pulmonary system, especially that of those who already had compromised immune systems. But, then I was thinking, I was dog-sick back in late December early January for about 3-4 weeks. Started with a crazy fever and aches and flu-like symptoms and wound up in my chest with a dry cough that was so deep, yet unproductive, and I just couldn’t kick it.
Was that Covid? Because it was awful, but I endured, and I recovered.
I don’t say that to be flippant. I appreciate others have been rendered incredibly ill and on ventilators or worse, and for others came the loss of life. But for so many others, it’s a nasty virus. One I wouldn’t want to experience twice for certain.
We had a trip planned for my daughter’s 20th birthday. We were heading to the Georgia Aquarium — the largest aquarium in the world, literally — we were so excited. And then…the shut down began. And it seemed to happen all at once. Restaurants, hotels, attractions, everything shut down other than grocery and essentials. And we were told to stay home. I wasn’t sure how to react. Panic set it at first. But really, how long could this last?
And then the insanity set in. No true leadership at the top. No consistency with how this was going to be handled. No unified message of what the states should do. You had Colorado on tight shut down, same here in Charlotte, but then you had states like South Carolina, where we live, that as on more of a “stay at home “sorta”” order. Stay at home unless…you need to go out pretty much. Sure, the restaurants closed, the attractions closed, but so many people were out at places like Lowes and Walmart. They became the gathering places for the trapped masses.
I kept waiting for Trump to put the head of FEMA, the body of the government that was literally designed to handle catastrophic emergencies, in charge. But it never happened. As a result governors were left to do what they thought best. So if you were conservative in your approach, your people might remain on relative lock-down indefinitely. If you are less conservative (and I don’t mean that politically, I mean that personally) your people, like our state, may go from phase 1 or 2 to 8 overnight. Wide-open. No rhyme or reason. Craziness.
Truly having had time to reflect, and I know with some this will resonate, and with others it will bring a reaction of horror, but I feel like we’ve given a LOT of power to a virus.
Yes, this is a bad, and in some cases, very dangerous virus. But it’s not the first dangerous, even lethal virus and it most certainly won’t be the last. We cannot live the rest of our existence afraid, in lock-down, and in masks to “hopefully” prevent an illness. It’s just not realistic and it’s not the way we function as humans.
Never being able to hug, stand close to, share literal joy with my fellow man for fear they may be a carrier, or that I may be a carrier? That’s no life. If I’ve learned anything through this time it’s that I value contact with other humans. I need it. I thrive on it.
I certainly enjoy my “down” time, my alone time, but then I need connection with others to truly thrive. Shared experiences, shared joy, shared grief. There is a deeper meaning to shared moments. I look back at my social media memories, and almost all of them include others. I refuse to live life any other way. For those who are believers, it has been this way from the beginning.
After God created Adam, he created Eve because it was not good for man to be alone. Together is how we were literally designed.
As the threat of Covid was looming, Ahmaud Arbery’s murder hit the news. A young black man, out for an afternoon jog, was gunned down by two racist, despicable white men. Even worse, there was pause on charges being brought against them. WHAT? Again I’m stymied. What was the question here? Then of course Covid happened and human rights were set aside, for a moment.
And then George Floyd was murdered, by a cop.
And the reaction of many people I know. Many white people was, “why were the cops after him in the first place?” To which I question back — “Does it matter?”
Unless you pull a weapon on a cop, unless you are aggressively after their lives, what right do they have to take your life? None, nada, zip. You should not have to fear for your life — even if you are stealing, thieving, breaking the law.
And before anyone gets ready to blast me — I am not anti-cop. My dearest friend is a Chicago detective who started as a beat cop on the West side of the city — in some of the most dangerous, drug infested parts of the town. I am thankful for the men in blue who take their job to protect citizens seriously and don’t grow a crazy ego that sets them above the law. But this man — Chauvin — he was not a good cop. He is not a good man. And he has no excuse for murdering Mr. Floyd.
What has ensued in the wake of these senseless murders has stirred many feelings inside of me as a white, upper middle-class woman. Racism has never been an issue for me…or so I thought.
Two weeks ago when all the riots began, when all the talk of white privilege and racism began I have to admit. I was pissed. There’s just no other way to describe how I was feeling. I have always said things like “I don’t see color”, I have black friends. Hell, my ancestors weren’t slave owners — they were still in Greece when the civil war broke out. They came here as immigrants and had to scrape themselves together to get all the way to Chicago, to start a restaurant and feed their kids off the ridiculous long hours and pittance for pay so that my parents could have better, I could have better yet and my kids could have the best of all. Why am I being held accountable for the wrongs of whites from 400 years ago? Yep, I was not only pissed, I was indignant.
And then a Facebook post from a neighbor caught my attention. It was a link to a YouTube video.
Now, let’s be clear. I was being a bit of an Ostrich over the last few weeks. Head. in. the. sand. I hadn’t watched anything that had to do with race, racism, white supremacy, nada. I avoided it all because it made me mad. But for some reason this video caught my eye and I clicked it and watched. (WARNING: Strong language towards the end — the lady is ANGRY and rightfully so).
The woman in the video starts out explaining how slavery is akin to a monopoly game whereby you (a white person) and your opponent (a black person) are playing a game. The difference is that for the first 400 rounds your opponent doesn’t get to keep anything they land on, they get to build/own no houses and the money they collect at Go, well, that isn’t theirs either. In fact they have to hand all those pieces over to you – their opponent. The person they are actively playing against. All the while you are getting richer and fatter and happier as you continue to benefit from both turns, yours and your opponents, each round of the game.
Then, the next 50 rounds your opponent finally gets to buy some of the remaining property and even gets to start building homes, etc. We’ll call this the “Tulsa” period. All is going along swimingly, until your opponent gets Marvin Gardens and that doesn’t sit well with you — so you decide to take over again, and this time you take the card and houses and you decide to burn it in protest.
And now, today, we “allow” our opponent to again play and gain traction — but then we ask questions like, “why can’t they catch up?” “Why do they need more help in school?” “Why can’t they just pull up their boot straps and get ahead? My ancestors did…” For Pete’s sake — THEY are 450+ rounds behind. How does anyone catch up from that position and have equality?
And I finally got it.
No, my ancestors did not own slaves, but I have certainly profited from slavery. Slavery built this country and its economy and have I benefited from it? Oh yes I have. Immeasurably. And down the hole I fell. I have spent the last week getting uncomfortable. Looking inward, examining the parts of me that are racist. And I have found them.
I started reading “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo this week. I’m taking it slow because it’s difficult to read, absorb, and digest. I am pausing as I go to try on what it is she is saying to me. Is it true — for me? She makes blanket statements in the book – addressing white people (of which she is one) as a whole, and that might make it easy to dismiss (“Well, I’m not all white people — I’m different.”) but if you are honest, and look inside, some, if not all of what she purports rings true.
And I realize I’m only a week in to this uncomfortable self-discovery, but I am asking an even tougher question…what now?
Okay — I’ve identified that I have racist beliefs and underpinnings. That I do in fact see color, and not always in the best light. What do I do to eradicate this. These thoughts, these misguided beliefs and false facts have been ingrained in me since my very birth. My privilege abounds. What now? How do I change? How do I fix the problem? What is my part?
I don’t have the answer to that question yet. But I’m open, and I’m willing to explore. To have hard conversations. To be real and honest. And I guess that’s a start.
I know this post has been heavy, and if you’ve stuck with it this long, I appreciate your patience. I wanted to end on something a little lighter. A little celebratory.
Back in January I submitted an article to Joyful Life magazine and in February they reached out to let me know they were going to publish the article. After going through the editing process, I received the final copy in the mail last week — it’s gorgeous — and so fun to see my name and words in print. In a publication no less! It’s the summer issue titled “Delight”. It’s a quarterly publication so it’s a little on the pricey side ($24/issue) but I promise, you will not be disappointed if you buy it. It’s gorgeous, and made of heavy stock. The articles in addition to mine are enriching and honest. It’s worth the purchase.
With that, I will close. I am still wrestling with heavy things, but that’s good, I think. What are you wrestling with these days?
6 Replies to “Wrestling…”
Wow.. powerful message
Joy and Peace,
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Wow thank you for your honest open reflections and everyone’s experience of covivid- we are, 12 weeks in, and still in lockdown in Wales, and the racial protests, is different but some deep questions there for me to think on! And congratulations about the magazine article, very exciting!
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Inspiring words Shay. Can’t wait to get a copy of the Joyful
Life magazine and read your article!
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Thanks, Jin! Miss you friend!!
Congrats on being published! I share many of the same struggles and really appreciate your candor.
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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Paula. It’s tough right now and I think we’re all just trying to do the best we can at making sense of everything in the world!