HURTING HEART – WITHHOLDING WORDS
My heart literally hurts, and it has nothing to do with my recent surgery.
I feel as if this pain is exacerbated by the fact that I have not found a way to aptly articulate the pain in such a way that doesn’t alienate others or inadvertently offend those for whom I am hurting.
Brilliant, caring, contributing men and women are being maligned in ways that I never thought I would see again. These men and women and, yes, even children are being denigrated because they happen to be people of color. Black, brown. Whatever the term you choose to apply there is a poison being exposed and spread and it must be spoken of before it can be healed.
Some of you may want to stop reading right there. You can unsubscribe and delete, but you have already seen the sentiment I most need to convey.
During my childhood, the Civil Rights movement was at its most horrific. Murders, lynching, segregation, busing; it seemed there were endless ways that our fellow human beings were being shoved to the margins and into the background solely based on their race. I remember vividly the news report telling of the murder of Rev. Dr. King. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to kill a passionate preacher of equality and non-violence. I heard my parents’ reactions to the ensuing riots and feared that it would come to the street where we lived and the rage would kill us all.
But you see, that could not have happened.
We had moved to an all-white suburb when our previous neighborhood began to “turn bad.”
And so, I had minimal direct exposure to people of different races or religions until I entered university.
People who had been images on a screen or headlines in a paper became real and tangible and vital to me. Differences evoked not fear, only fascination, appreciation, and wonder. I began to realize how privileged my race had made me, but also how cut off I had been from a huge percentage of my shared humanity. A beautiful and rich and varied percentage. A part of myself had been cut off.
I began to see and witness and deeply admire people who transcended the systemic bigotry of the culture to make enormous contributions to the world at large. I felt a fire in the belly of crusaders who would no longer be held down. I did not stop at mere admiration. I took my place beside these heroes, doing what I could to expand the confines of a contracted and toxic consciousness. I do not claim to have done much. But it helped to feel like I could do something. Anything.
With the election of our first African American president, I literally wept with joy. Party affiliation had nothing to do with my exhilaration. I felt that we had finally reached a place where liberty and justice for all was being realized. An expanded possibility had opened to future generations. People were finally being seen for the value of their character and not held back by the tone of their skin.
I was wrong.
Have strides been made? Absolutely. And we are living at a time when the underbelly of our shadow racism is exploding in ways that are loud and forceful and unmistakable and wrong.
Racism is wrong.
And so, my heart literally hurts. I ache as I watch lifelong public servants minimized and diminished and shoved to the margins once again. I weep for the victims, the families and friends of all those gunned down and choked and threatened and maligned due to the pigmentation of their skin or the religion of their belief. This is not a political issue for me. It is a moral issue. It is a gaping hole in the fabric of our humanity. I hear claims that “we are better than this.” Are we? If we are then we have some major work to do.
So, I have sat with and leaned into this heart-pain. I have listened for what I am personally called to contribute. I have feared saying the wrong thing, both to the haters and those being hated. I am so wanting to contribute to the solution and not to the problem.
As a result, I have said nothing. And in saying nothing I become part of the problem. Silence is a form of collusion. I am silent no more.
This pain in my heart is nothing compared to those who live daily with the constant sting of racism. Marginalization is not foreign to me, but it is not the same I know.
This must stop.
This is not my most eloquent of writings, and it is with trepidation that I contemplate publishing it at all. I am fumbling. But I cannot remain silent. I must speak out. I must take a stand. I must do whatever I can to embody the values I hold precious.
Whatever your race or belief you are an emanation of the same Source as are all living beings. You are as precious and as important as any other. I will stand with you and for you. I will honor and respect you. I will compassion the pain. I will call out bigotry wherever I see it. I will love you. I will indeed love you. Your diversity and your humanity.
My heart is hurting yet my words are no longer withheld.