My drive this past Saturday through downtown Richmond, Virginia, my longtime city of residence, was a reflective one – from thinking about the slave ships that docked here by the multitudes hundreds of years ago to seeing businesses on Broad Street and in Carytown boarded up due to recent protests to witnessing the peaceful gathering at the Arthur Ashe statue, and just a few miles away, the moving tributes to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others at the base of the statue of Condeferate General Robert E. Lee, which is coming down.
I hope to always remember this juxtaposition of history, heartbreak and solemn efforts to heal, but not have to live through again what has brought us to this point.
The marathon to snuff out hate and brutality while building bridges of understanding and solidarity is just beginning (with generations of previous work serving as the foundation).
None of us who cares can let our weariness win or give up mid-race; for our basic humanity is at stake, and our children (many of whom are in the trenches and leading the way) are watching and counting on us. We must continue to #saytheirnames. We must find a way to #risetogether.
There’s no excuse for random violence or senseless looting; they aren’t the same as peaceful protests, which are a means of visibly showing pain and rising up together. As I take a few days away from social media to reset, I’ll leave you with the 5-minute video below as some form of explanation for what many citizens of this nation are feeling and fearing. Please watch and listen. More than once, if you need to. Let your heart break with ours. See us as the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, spouses, partners and friends that we are and summon your courage to empathize. For authentic caring does indeed take courage; and even if you don’t get it right at first and even if it feels uncomfortable, reach out and extend it to a colleague, friend, neighbor or relative who may be hurting. Then speak up, stand up and say their names with us. More importantly, help keep more names from being added to the list. Watching a man die on live TV/video broke our hearts – hearts that already had rips and tears. It was a form of secondary trauma. A tiny measure of healing may come (in time) by helping make real change, tangible and positive change, for the better. Can we all – every human being reading this – take on the challenge and do just that?