A personal letter from me.
So, in case any of you were wondering if I have been reading some of the comments on my social media platforms—I have. And I really would like to have an honest and open conversation with you guys. I won’t be able to respond to all comments (THERE ARE A LOT), but I do hear what you are saying.
Some people have been asking why I am trying to create more division with my recent posts, while others have said that I am feeding into mass hysteria or virtue signaling. They say I am denying that all lives matter, and that I am not focusing on the right things.
Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions. But (as I try practice on a daily basis), we should also examine those opinions and where they come from…what mindsets are shaping what we think, say and do? And do any of these need to be reexamined and reconceptualized? What am I keeping in my head that may be harming myself, and others?
We all do this, or try to do this (hopefully, at least!) on a personal level. I have lived on this planet for over 5 decades, so I think it is not surprising for me to say I have made my fair share of mistakes. I have made assumptions about people and acted on them, and caused some fights I didn’t mean to cause, and some fights I did mean to cause (because sometimes you just want to get at that person, ya know? I am human after all). I have learnt and acted on some bad habits I have, and my parents had. And I have had to unlearn a lot of things too.
But you know what else? I have also changed. I have said sorry. I know I am not perfect—far from it, and that’s okay. I have changed my mind on many things, and that’s okay too! I honestly don’t know anyone who hasn’t done this in their life, and of they say they haven’t, well…they are lying. Being human means you aren’t perfect, but you are still worth it.
The thing is, the brain is made to change—so, logically, I am made to change too! Some of that change is messy, some not. And part of this process includes the realization that the society I was born into, the family I have—we don’t exist in a vacuum. History affects us all, and just like we have to examine the impact our personal history has on our experiences, and how it affects our thinking, we also have to do that for our history as a people, as a nation and as different races.
I realize because I am a white woman, I have benefited from a certain amount privilege that is ingrained in the very fabric of where I live, because in the past white people were seen as more worthy than people of color. This is a fact, and I am learning more and more about it every day as I read, study, examine and analyze the past and how it affects us all now, in the 21st century. And I realize that because we have not confronted this history as we ought to, because we have not always wanted to have those tricky conversations, or face the fact that things don’t just change when we think something is bad (because I am sure all of you adamantly believe that what happened to someone like George Floyd is bad and utterly terrible), it’s bad right now, right here—things change when we choose to act on what we think. We have to use our minds, and this makes us accountable for change—me included. This is a process, and it can be hard, I totally get that! But, honestly, the foundation of mental health is hard work and some degree of painful change.
The pain, the uncomfortableness of it all is actually a good sign. When our thinking is challenged, when we try see things from different perspectives, we increase our cognitive flexibility--just like exercising our muscles entails some pain. As we push through this we reap the results. Indeed, this push, this struggle, is so good for us! It makes us mentally stronger, helping us get through future challenges by building up our stress resilience, and makes us wiser, which will help us see solutions when it seems there are none. And we all need this mental clarity, this mental strength right now.
And this is why I am listening. I am reading. I am learning. I am saying sorry. And I am posting. I have a platform, and I am trying to use it as much as I can to say I am listening, I am fighting, I am not just going to sit back and say things are bad. I want things to change not because it’s the trendy thing to do, but because I don’t want my sons-in-law to be killed, or attacked, or threatened or hunted, like FAR TOO MANY PEOPLE OF COLOR HAVE BEEN. I don’t want my future grandchildren to grow up in a world that sees them as a threat or a less-than-human. I am utterly ashamed, heartbroken and angry that this has been going on for so long, and I will do what I can to fight for those I love and for justice because, what else can I do? I cannot live with the thought of being silent—that to me is far more painful than any bad comment, angry email or unfair judgement.
I hope you will read this with an open mind and an open heart. I am not trying to deny anyone's experiences, judge anyone or silence anyone. Of course, people matter, I wouldn’t do what I do if I didn’t believe this will my whole heart! I am just trying to focus on what I can do to change something that has gone on way too long, at too great a cost. We are in the emergency room of history, and we need to do some triaging. Like someone who comes in with an open, gaping wound, this is something that needs attention right now because people really are dying.