The last few weeks have held a lot of pain for many people, me and my family included. The moments in history that will never change, not for the family of George Floyd, not for the Black community, not for our country, are now immortalized in photographs and videos. Things need to change, but will change come?
I am a biracial women and I identify as Black. My father came to this country from Liberia, Africa and met my mother, a farm raised Dutch girl, at Western Michigan University. They fell in love, and made me. It's not been an easy road, but I have never in my adult life ever wanted to be anything other than who I am, both Black and white. My brown skin combined with my name Maria (I'm named after my Dutch Grandmother) has mistakenly led some people to think I'm Latinx. I've been on the receiving end of racism from people who hate Hispanics and those who hate Blacks. Lovely, right?
As a teen I always thought we would see less and less of racism, but the opposite has occurred. I'm seeing and experiencing more and more of it. My children have been afraid to have me leave the house on errands because of the color of my skin. This disturbs me and grieves me greatly. I've had to put on a brave face for them so many times. Having them be afraid of racist violence against me was not something I anticipated. After watching a man slowly being murdered by police officers as he begged for breath, has me more fearful of police than ever before. Rioting in our streets is the least of my concerns, but many of my white family and friends have been more disturbed by this than the murder of unarmed Black people.
A couple weeks ago, I was alone in the car and broke down. I just couldn't stop the tears. I was listening to Michigan Public radio's Snap Judgment. The host was talking about how they had participated in a caravan demonstration, it was a way to avoid Covid-19 and yet exercise the right to peacefully protest and gather as Americans. The host talked about the hope he and his family felt while participating, and I knew we needed to do the same with our own kids.
There was a peaceful protest scheduled in our community to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and in remembrance of George Floyd. Two of our children didn't want to go because they were afraid the police would come and hurt us. After listening to the radio program I knew we had to give our kids hope. We piled in the car and drove back and forth along the long line of peaceful demonstrators waiving our Black Lives Matter flag and beeping our horn. Listening to our community cheer, seeing their smiling faces of different colors, many who we knew personally, was healing for all of us. They gave us hope. God was moving in people's hearts.
Change is happening both good and bad. Change is gong to come both good and bad. My hope is that finally, finally we as a country will address this long festering sin of racism. It's not going away completely, but it can be contained, rooted out, addressed and squashed. We must implement policies to protect our citizens from racial injustice and the destructive effects it has on lives.
One more thing, and this is where I might loose some of you. We need white people to take a stand. We need white people to say, "My generation will face this illness." If you're white we need you to be brave, and realize that although you didn't invent white privilege, you continue to benefit from it by living with racism. For Black and brown people, living with racism means suffering, loss and for some death
It's 2020, not 1920, not 1820, and we as a country need to change.