A few weeks ago my athlete son proudly told me about his 4-mile run in the “very safe” neighborhood that surrounds the university he attends. My anxiety level instantly rose.
I reminded him, yet again, that he has to be careful, because unfortunately, some of those neighbors may simply see “a black man running” and do some harm.
It is hard for him to see himself as other than how he describes himself – a good kid – in a world that continues to see skintones and complexion first. It is also hard for me to have to repeatedly burst his bubble.
I am mindful that many are struggling with similar concerns and have been triggered by headlines (the accosted Army officer; the shooting in Minnesota) and other ugly realities this week. I’ve talked to young and older, male and female, in my circle and have tried to offer support.
And I am intent on remaining an optimist, helping realize the day when my son and your son and all of us can jog without worry, drive without fear and simply exist without pause.
We owe it to ourselves and future generations to keep trying to manifest this more just world, so that all mothers and fathers, and aunts and uncles, and godparents and friends, and spouses and partners can sleep well each night, without stressing about a loved one’s ethnicity impacting his or her ability to make it home.
We might enter this world alone, but we don’t live in it, and certainly can’t love in it, on an island. To get to your island, you may have to walk through my forest or cross her river or climb his hill. So keeping my forest fire-free, and her river waters clean, and his hill easy to navigate helps you safely reach your island – and enjoy the journey there all the more. 🤷🏽♀️ We are connected, and we must remember that.
I learned of Juneteenth when I was 21, during a summer internship in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A young black couple that befriended me took me to my first-ever Juneteenth celebration and opened my eyes to why it was significant.
I wondered then why I’d never heard of it, and it’s a reminder today of the truth that many of us “don’t know what we don’t know.”
Today is an excellent day to spend some extra time seeking information through Google or your favorite search engine; to buy some ebooks, audiobooks or print books that detail the rich history of African American dreamers and doers; to watch some of the documentaries that add context and revelation to the pandemic that is known as racial injustice, such as 13th or the classic Eyes on the Prize or others you discover through your own research.
Juneteenth is “a thing” because it took forever for freed slaves in part of these United States to learn that they’d been free for a while, yet were still treated and viewed as someone’s property.
Today, let’s loose shackles of every kind by pushing ourselves – whoever we are and whatever we look like – to learn something new, do something different, and become better and wiser comrades on this journey called life.
Nearly 15 years ago I penned a novel that still resonates with readers – and me – today. This nationally published book, Watercolored Pearls, shares the story of three women friends who find themselves relenting to the doubt, worry and fear that lurks in their daily lives – silent enemies that seek to overshadow their inner wisdom and beauty and mask their gifts and growth. Then an older woman comes along who sees herself in them, and remembers her own journey to wholeness. She tells them to take heart and be of good courage, and to keep going, because their individual paths are leading them to purpose, and even joy.
In the vein of the message I shared through those fictional characters, I share this poem with you. Aptly titled We Are Watercolored Pearls, I wrote it in 2014, for guests at a brunch I hosted to celebrate my 10th anniversary as a multi-published author. I share it with you now, during these turbulent times in our world, to remind you that it often takes shake ups and setbacks, twists and turns, pauses and pitstops to arrive at your destination whole and ready to thrive.
So stay the course, lean into life’s lessons and enjoy the journey as much as you can – with this poem serving up some inspiration.