I had an experience today that literally had my heart racing. I was overcome with fear. It was a different feeling than I’d ever felt before in this context.
It was a rainy Monday morning and I wanted to get breakfast. I decided to pull into a place that sold breakfast. I got out of the car. As I tried to avoid stepping in a huge puddle of water, I covered my head from the downpour. I purposely wore my sweatshirt with a hood so I could forgo needing an umbrella. I stepped over the puddle and reached the door. I opened the door to the establishment and as I did, I felt my heart starting to race. My mind was filled with horrible images I’d seen happen to others with my own eyes. Yet, I was now the one in those images. I pictured being shot and killed. I pictured being led away in handcuffs while asking what I did wrong. I pictured being placed in a choke hold on the ground unable to breathe. I pictured holding my hands up and not moving because I was commanded to do so. With those images, I started to return to my car but I went ahead and stepped inside the store. It was just me and the employee. I wondered if I was being videoed by someone who was monitoring the store. Were they dialing 911 because I was wearing a hoodie? Should I pull the hood back to appear friendly. Should I…then I became angry that this was what I felt I needed to consider. “Why should I have to be burdened with this?”, I asked myself as I stared at the menu with my heart still racing. “Hurry up and order”, I said to myself. Reality certainly slapped me in the face. My order was wrong, so I began to explain this to the employee. “Should i just let it go?”, I asked myself. “Will he think I’m being combative?” I told him I wasn’t paying extra for the redo. As I left the store, I was a wreck. I sat in my car and held the wheel. It dawned on me that I wasn’t necessarily safe there. I started my car and pulled off.
I shared my experience this morning on FB and the issue of the two black men being arrested in Starbucks came up. Then, a sweet friend sent me this in response:
How can we help? I mean, I live my daily life and feel like I would be any of those white customers in that SB defending those black men. It crushes me when I read you say “you don’t belong” bc the world I live in (as in my little bubble here in ******* and this small bubble of the world) you DO belong. I know what you mean though based on the insanity that happens to the people that look like you…but you are my people as much as my white people are my people and I don’t know what I can actually do on a very VERY practical note on a daily basis other than pray (which I do) accept (which I do) and not see color (which I don’t). I’m reaching out to you bc I really wanna hear you. My heart breaks. It really does. I was close to living my life as the wife of a black man but that didn’t pan out (that was back in my high school days) and I often do think of how different my life would feel if my hubby and children were POC. It’s on my heart. I’m so glad you share what you’re experiencing. I wanna hear what you would say to me as a white friend. What would YOU want ME to be doing so that I can love you and those you love more devotedly..?
For a few years now, I’ve tried to live out my calling to be a bridge and be a bridge-builder. I want to be a justice seeker and a justice speaker. I cannot and will not be silent about the atrocities that plaque people of color. I desire to have conversations that enlighten and challenge others to think a little differently about issues that affect people of color. If the don’t want to hear I must accept that. It’s not easy but by the grace of God I must be a voice in my own little corner of the world. So blessed to have loving arms comforting me.
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” Micah 6:8 CEV