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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

I cannot remain silent

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  ~Martin Luther King Jr.

It's been a long time since I've posted... a REALLY LONG TIME.

I backed down and out of blogging for a while because people I knew in real life were getting weird about it and it was affecting my kids.  I never want anything to affect my kids.  If I can't legitimately make a difference by what I say, I won't blog.  I need to post what matters in my heart.

Why am I breaking my silence?


I can't sit by and keep my mouth shut.  I can't do nothing.

This will be a long post, so buckle up.

I'm mostly watching the world through the big screen in my living room, thank you COVID-19, and I cannot wrap my head around what is going on in the world.

The hate and violence need to stop.

I first want to say that I fully support law enforcement.  I don't believe that good, innocent people need to be murdered because they are cops.  Not all cops are bad cops.  Many of our friends are or were cops and I love and respect them.  If this was their fight, I'd stand shoulder to shoulder beside them.  They have been zapped HARD by those despicable individuals in Minnesota who stood by while George Floyd was being murdered by a bad cop.  They don't all deserve the hate thrown at them - but this isn't about cops right now - good or bad.

Right now ALL people DO need to stand up and agree that BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Yes.... All lives DO matter, but that is not the platform.  Put it away.

The best quote I saw on this was, "If you went into a Breast Cancer rally, you wouldn't stand up and say ALL CANCER MATTERS" - you'd support the breast cancer cause. 

Keep reading please....
No matter what you think about the rallies, the protests or the rioting - you need to pay attention.

This isn't about cops.  This isn't about All Lives.  It's about hate and racism, plain and simple.

I'm an educated, middle class, hard working white mom and wife.  It wasn't always this way.  Well, yeah - I've always been white - but I didn't grow up in the lap of luxury.  I worked my ass off for everything I have.  I am a white woman who had no idea what white privilege was, or that I actually had it.

Over the years I have asked many of my friends of color what white privilege meant, probably at the wrong time in the wrong setting (because I have no filter), with no answer.  I get it, it's an uncomfortable topic.  It could cause disagreements, but I wanted to know.  I needed to know why I was told I had white privilege.  I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth.  I had a shitty childhood.  People referred to us as "white trash."  My parents were mostly absent for one reason or another.  Surely this didn't apply to me.

Ya know what I learned?  White privilege has nothing to do with any of that. 

Pre-Clifton days, I lived on the border of Totowa and Paterson.  Totowa kids weren't always so nice to me and told me I lived in Paterson.  Fine by me, I walked right across the street and hung out with my Paterson friends, who were mostly of color - friends who lovingly gave me the nickname "stupid little white girl."  Don't be horrified.  That was NOT meant to be mean or demeaning - it's genuinely who I was back then and they said it with love.  My dad was all peace, love and tie dye.  He very specifically taught me to never see color in people, only their hearts.  With that, I never saw color.  I went where I wanted, when I wanted,  with whom I wanted.  That often did not bode well for me.  I often had to be "rescued" from situations that could have gone very bad for me.  I was rescued by my friends of color.

I know what you think you're seeing here....  Of course it would it be "bad" for a little white girl to be in a "black area".  I didn't see that.  I saw my friends.  I saw their hearts.  I saw people who genuinely loved me and looked out for me when others couldn't be bothered.  They stood beside me.  Their moms fed me.  They made sure I got home OK in the dark when they knew getting back home for them might be a little tricky.  I saw them.  They saw me.  Period.

I want to share some of the things I personally lived throughout my childhood that I will never forget.  There are contrasts of good and bad - but I hope you will see my point.

First I'll start with a very basic, and true, illustration of racism from my childhood.  I'm only in my 50's.  By rights, this stuff should never have existed in my childhood, but please read on.

When I was younger, my mother sent my brothers and I to our grandparent's house down south every summer in lieu of day care or camp that she couldn't afford.  It was mid to late 70's almost a decade after segregation should have ended.  We were dropped off at the town pool every day that it didn't rain.  Being who I was, I gravitated to the children of color and played with them in the pool.  I never once noticed the "Black Area" signs that should have been removed decades prior.  I'd never seen them before and paid no mind.  I clearly remember walking over to sit and play with my new friends and their moms looking to me nervously.  I didn't understand.  I was from Jersey.  I knew nothing of modern day segregation.  Finally, one of the moms whispered to me, "Sweetie, you can't be here.  We are going to get into trouble."  I obeyed, of course, even though I didn't understand.  When I addressed the situation with my grandparents, they told me that "the coloreds aren't regarded much" in that area.  I was heart broken.  I never forgot it.

Back home in Jersey, one spring day my younger brothers and I took our brand new bikes and rode to Kennedy High School to hang out by the very first submarine, which at that time proudly adorned the property.  Two young boys of color asked if they could ride our bikes.  Being the "stupid little white girl" that I was, we said sure.... Yup, they stole our bikes.  Wait....DO NOT JUDGE.
My brothers and I ran and chased them across the Great Falls bridge and down to CCP (Christopher Columbus Projects).  We lost them.  So here we were, 3 little white kids deep in the projects.
We walked back without fear, crying because we'd lost our bikes.  Several cars drove by us full of white faces we recognized.  No one stopped to see why these 3 little (white) kids were walking along the road crying.  Let me be a little bit more clear....we were 11, 8 and 5 year old LITTLE KIDS.  Not one person stopped.  We continued to walk toward home and an older black gentleman stopped us on the street as we walked past to see if we were OK.  We were not.  He was a worker at the dog pound.  He kindly showed us in.... noticed a pile of dogs that were recently euthanized and quick covered them to not upset us further.  He showed us kindness.  He turned to me and asked for our home phone number to call our parents to pick us up.  HE WAS THE ONE TO RESCUE US.  Not the (white) family from our school who saw and drove right past us on the road, the black stranger.

A stranger of color stepped up to help us.  He could have lost his job for bringing 3 little white kids into the city dog pound.  He put himself  and his job on the line to help US.  He didn't have to.
I'll never forget him.
I know it's hard to tell... this is NOT me and my brothers, but this is the submarine that used to be at Kennedy High School
Another time, I was with my friends - not in the projects this time, but in an apartment complex.  There was a knock out dare in progress that I was unaware of.  I was the lucky recipient of the knock out punch by a young black boy.  He hit and ran.  I, of course, hit the ground while my group of white friends laughed.   The woman who ran the kids off and came to care for me was a black woman I'll refer to as "Miss Shirley" for privacy.  She made sure I was OK.  She gave me water and sat with me until I was picked up.  Not my white friends, the black woman who didn't know me helped me.
I'll never forget her.

I'm guessing the "stupid little white girl" picture is making more sense to you now.

I love and respect the memory of these people.
All they saw was someone needing help and they stepped up regardless of their personal circumstances, potential outcome or because we were white.  They saw a human in need and stepped up.

Isn't that what we should all be doing?  Stepping up for our fellow humans?

That's what we are, you know... humans!

We need to stop doing nothing.  Stop "minding your own business."  Stand up for what is right.

We need to stop seeing color and realize that good and bad happen in every color.

Am I horrified by George Floyd?  Yes, I am!  Honestly, I'm more offended by the Ahmaud Arbery incident.  (click on his name for background if you don't know about this incident)
A black man can't take a JOG without being assumed to be "high tailing it out of there" and be shot dead by two white men???  Is this really what the human race is made of?

He was taking a jog, not breaking laws.  Are you outraged?

Think about that, taking a jog.  Now put yourself in that position.  If you are white, would you EVER expect to be shot dead or suspected to be "high tailing it out of there" for taking a jog?
NO, you would not.  I wouldn't either.

This is where white privilege comes into play.  Growing up as I did, I didn't think that phrase even sort of applied to me.  I had no privileges....

Until I thought about this:

When was the last time you had to tell a young child that they shouldn't (not couldn't) play with your children because you / they would get into trouble?
When was the last time you were asked where you're going when you were leaving an upscale area?
When was the last time you were shot at for taking a jog?
When was the last time someone took a few steps back when you were standing next to them?
When was the last time someone assumed that because you were there a crime may be in progress?

This is where our white privilege lies - not by how much we make or what we do or don't have. It's the privilege of not being unfairly judged in advance based upon the color of your skin.

Is this really the world you want to live in?

It's not the world I want to live in.

Agree or disagree.  That's your choice.

I don't want to live in a world of hatred.

I don't want my children learning hate.

Black lives matter.

Until Black Lives Matter, All Lives cannot matter.

Stand up or shut up.

Learn to love and stop the hate.  Be a part of the solution.

This world will never find peace until we learn to love each other and accept each other's differences.

Thank you for reading my blog.


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