The week that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot down was one of the most emotionally draining weeks for me, my black community, and frankly America. I’ve heard it at church before, and it applies here: Extend some grace, compassion, and love. Also, maybe try a therapist.
The week that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot down by the men charged with protecting them — that was one of the most emotionally draining weeks for me, my black community, and frankly America.
For the first time in my 30-plus years, I felt like I was in a movie about the ’60s. I felt like I had no idea what was going to happen next, but instead of waiting by a radio (or in rare cases a black-and-white TV), I was on social media. It took so much effort just to keep up and sort it out. Images, images, images — everywhere.
It was not a movie. There were no pans, multi-cams, sound and boom mics. It felt like maybe our country had hit its capacity and the energy had nowhere else to go but boil over. I spent most of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and part of Sunday, in my room. I didn’t even realize it until a friend mentioned that another friend had done the same.
It was one of those weeks that makes you seriously consider if you are crazy or not — because, moment by moment, the emotion changes. First I want to cry. The next moment, yell. Another, fight. Another, hug somebody — and not just anybody. I had conversations with my mom, texts back and forth with a dear friend, so many Facebook conversations.
Thankfully it was my therapy week, so I could talk it out, all of my emotions, with someone who can’t say anything to anyone else, unless I’m a threat to myself or others. I guess my crying was a threat to my ability hold back and pretend I was OK. Otherwise, therapy is a safe place to deal with me. Every day, I have to deal with the whole world, but once every two weeks I get to deal with me. It’s not fun, but it’s the absolute best thing … since sliced bread. (I’m not actually that impressed with sliced bread. That’s just me.)
In all of my thoughts and contemplations I’ve come to this: nothing. I don’t have the answers — except that ice cream makes everything better. Unless you’re lactose intolerant.
Okay, maybe not, but what I did learn is that people are eager to move forward. Maybe a little too eager — because who wants black people hating white people? Let’s get out of this stage very quickly so America can be alright again? Much of it is not hate, it is frustration. Knowing the difference is difficult sometimes.
So many of my friends have posted comments and sent messages and texts saying they support our cause and us but have no idea what to do and how to help. Don’t get excited: Most were responding to what I had already written. However, it has been beautiful to see and know that so many white co-humans want to be a part of the change.
So, my hope is that people will be kind to each other and extend a little more grace and understanding. We can hurt each other’s feeling trying to decide what to eat for dinner. So your feelings just might get hurt trying to sort out all of this. You may feel like someone is picking on you or at you. You may realize you didn’t know as much as you thought you did. You may begin to understand your own racism, your own bias, and general unfairness of your ideals.
We are going to have to get into rooms together and have roundtables concerning race. We will have to work together and come home and work at home, too. My hope is that we will try to understand each other. I honestly do hope we will find ways to build and not tear down, forgive and not be bitter, and incite change instead of sitting on the couch knowing that the end result won’t be world peace, so … no point in doing anything.
I’ve heard it at church before, and it applies here: Extend some grace, compassion, and love. Even if your blood is boiling, learn to be compassionate. Even if you’re getting cursed out for being the good person you are, accept that you are not perfect. And I’m not preaching solely to our white co-humans. It takes all of us to truly allow love, understanding, and unity to grow.
Also, maybe try a therapist. Just saying. My therapist is working through some things with me. And sometimes I can’t stand her, but I’m always appreciative that I can work it out with her.
In the end, we will likely not be fully healed. But who knows how close we really are? This week I’m making a choice to head toward change. I hope to see you on that road. If you need a hand, I hope I will be able to set aside my own pride and reach out. Bring a snack. It’s going to be long. And stay hydrated. No, literally, take care of yourself.