Saturday, June 13, 2020

The word.

Dear All,

What's the word?  Justice.  Equity.  Kindness.  Pick one, it should do for now.

A few days ago I asked at my workplace that we draft a position on issues of race, and this is what I got as an answer:  "Well, where would we put a statement like that?"  And that, my friends, was the end of that!

Officially, in the case of my workplace, we are going to stick our opinions where the sun don't shine. 

It is a pity that my co-workers are not ready to make a statement, but, I don't have to keep silent elsewhere, and so I won't.  We need to examine ourselves and make corrections accordingly.  Are you ready?  I will go first:  in my family, we were brought up to believe that if you treat people equally, you are doing your part.  This is nice, but ultimately inadequate.  I think I knew it was inadequate when I was 11 years old, and walking down a paved road with a rag tag bunch of kids that included people of color.  I felt a kind of child's mistrust in unfamiliar things- I felt worried about how different these kids looked from me.  They knew stuff I didn't know, and they dressed different too.  It was a long walk; we were going to a pool 4 miles away and back, so in that day, in those 8 miles and the hours in the pool, and in the subsequent meetings with these compatriots, a lot of my anxiety evaporated.  They were still much cooler than I was, and I worried about making a fool of myself in front of them, but that was something I was used to already among my white friends; used to being un-street smart, to not knowing the right songs, the right films, the colloquial names for drugs and sex.  That walk, a chance encounter really, was a start; a step in the right direction.

I still fret over making a fool of myself and I worry I will make things worse, and I bet you worry too, but we have to risk making a mistake.  We have to keep on stepping out, keep on moving.  There are lots of opportunities to say something or to bear witness, or to put yourself in a place you think you don't belong.  There is also sending your support in the form of money, and here are two places you can do that, and hopefully you will investigate the statements that these two groups have made, and then, I hope you ask your workplace, and your knitting circle, and your fly fishing club, and your families, to draft a little statement of your own.