We are living in a really tough time. No one has the answers but everyone has an opinion. We are all experts in nothing.
It’s been a crazy time in the Brown house as well. We planned out construction to begin in early March. We planned all the floors to be done, the living room, all the bedrooms and the kitchen. We planned for our roof to be done in April or May. We planned to have our fence put in when the weather was good enough to put the posts in the ground. And then the outside of our house was planned to be painted. We had planned this at the end of the year last year and there was plenty of space between jobs to make sure they all got done and gave us some time to recover. But it was okay because everyone would be either in school or at work. It would be a little painful for me but I’d lock myself in a room all day or go to a coffee shop and work if it was to loud.
The best laid plans. We all know that saying.
Well, now that everything is opening back up, all the contractors want to come at the same time. And the last thing I want to do is to be put at the end of their lists.
Shit show. My house is a giant shit show. Geoffrey and the older boys went back to work. So that leaves me, 3 dogs, two kids and a giant construction site. We can’t go to a coffee shop. We can’t pack up and go to my fathers as his house is now on the market. We are here in 1 or 2 rooms all….day….long. I keep telling myself I will be worth it. And I know it will be but….gah! I hope I make it to that time before cracking! But it WILL all be worth it.
On top of the covid pandemic that we are all experiencing, we now find ourselves in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement in history. There is so much emotion, sadness and misunderstanding on all sides. It is really heartbreaking. I truly believe the world could be a much better place if we could stop and just try to listen to everyone’s point of view. But people won’t and we are stuck.
I worry. I worry all the time. I do not want to hurt people. In fact, I’ve stayed silent for so long because I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid of hurting people. I was afraid of losing people. I was scared. I am STILL scared. But I’m talking now and I will not stop.
I haven’t always tried. I was a shitty teenager that I’m ashamed of. In my twenties and early thirties I was so consumed with my own drama and dancing on eggshells that I didn’t even pay much attention to anything outside of myself. These days I’m trying. I’m in a place where I can open my heart and see all that I walked right by for so many years. I’m not giving myself any kudos, trust me. I offend people all the time. I hurt people I love without ever meaning to in any way. But I’m trying. Every day I’m trying and I hope that makes the difference.
I always believed in civil rights. I always thought I was doing the right thing. I’m pretty sure at some point I said “all lives matter” and believed it. I thought because I was nice and liked everyone that I was doing right and wasn’t racist. I wasn’t racist. But I was not helping anything, either. What I was actually doing was shoving it off as “not my problem” because I was kind to everyone. So, I was supporting a broken system and therefore contributing to it. I was appalled at some of the events I’d seen in the past. Most people I knew were also appalled. I condemned it and wanted justice to be served. And I thought I was doing my part. I have black friends that I adore. I have friends of all colors, backgrounds, sexual orientations and religions. How could I be doing something wrong?
It took me until I was 42 to snap when I learned of a young man who was murdered while he was out for a run. Ahmaud Arbery was a young black man who was out on a run and was followed, hit by their car (which only came out today), cornered, shot and murdered by a retired police detective, his son and his friend.
He was out running. Running. To be healthy. A runner. But I go for runs all the time and don’t feel danger. Especially in the morning or day time. How can this be? And I saw the video and then I lost it. HE WAS OUT RUNNING. I was angry. More than angry. Elliot goes out for runs all the time and never once did I fear that he would not return home. I cannot imagine being scared when my son goes for a run. I can’t. I cried. My heart ached for Ahmaud’s mother. I was angry that he was murdered. I was angry these men were not arrested. I was opening my eyes. Finally.
Then George Floyd was murdered. I could not stomach the video. I read a quote which said that when George Floyd called for his mother all mothers were summoned. With tears in my eyes, YES.
No more. I will no longer be scared of people being angry with me. If I have to lose people then I have to lose people. This matters. This matters and when I grow old If I cannot look my children and grand children in the eyes and say I stepped up when it mattered….then what good am I at all?
I’d like to make something really clear. I’m not against the police. I think MANY officers are good people. I have huge gratitude for those officers that put themselves on the line…that ran in to the twin towers….that protect lives every day. This is not about being against police. What I am against is this:
The violence. The bad cops. The code that keeps other police from speaking out against it. The systematic prejudice that has existed for hundreds of years. The old boys club. The silence when bad things are done. I know some awesome police. And I’ve known some bad ones. My first job out of college was working for a company that wrote public safety software. Police, prisons, fire departments, etc. My area was prison and police software. This meant that that I was constantly surrounded by current and former police officers and prison guards. I saw things and heard things that were not okay. I was twenty two years old and I was in my first real job. I was incredibly naïve and thought everyone was good and that I would recognize the bad guys. Well, without going in to detail a retired police officer was completely inappropriate to me. When I returned to my office after the work trip my coworkers were talking about who I was working with down in Florida. They mentioned this cop and laughed about him being a dirty old cop. They knew. They knew the things he did and laughed about it. They knew and sent me, a 22 year old kid down there to spend a week working with him. That was my first experience in reality. With how people can be and with the old boys club. That’s the first time I saw police protecting bad behavior.
I’m not anti-police. No way. In fact, the police at the two protests that I have been to have been wonderful. They are supportive of change and understand it. I’m still shocked at the things I’m seeing today. A 75 year old man was knocked down in Buffalo while at a protest. Should the man have been arrested? Was he breaking the law? Was he a known pain in the ass activist? I do not know the answers to those questions and I do not care. He was 75 years old and probably 140 pounds. They have many, many other alternatives the to knock him down. And then lie about it on record.
Why is the “all lives matter” so offensive? It, in itself, is not offensive. ALL LIVES DO MATTER!!! Except that “All Lives Matter” was created in a way to wash over the issues we need to talk about. All lives matter. We all know that. But until we treat each other as all lives matter…they don’t. I’ve seen a very good meme shared explaining it talking about houses: P1: All houses matter. P2: Yes, but that house over there is on fire. Do all houses still matter? P1: Yes, of course but that house right there needs our attention right now. And that’s it. The black community cannot do this alone. They are hurting and in danger and need our help. White privilege does not mean that we haven’t had hard lives or been treated unfairly. Not at all. It simply means that we are not judged simply for the color of our skin. We can go for a run whenever we want and not worry about our safety.
I’ve been to two protests this week. The first protests I have ever been to. I was nervous. I was really nervous. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I saw riots and violence. I also saw many peaceful protests. I could tell very quickly that they would be peaceful The organizers were incredibly well spoken, organized and ready to work for a peaceful change. I was so proud of my communities. THIS is what we need. I love my community and feel honored to share it with so many awesome people.
I haven’t lost many friends. I’ve had difficult conversations. I have people that stay silent. I have people that just avoid the topic with me. I don’t know how to handle it all either. All I know is that I need to be sure that no one is unsure of exactly how I feel. I need to be able to tell my children that I tried in the ways I knew how. I need to tell them I did things wrong and listened and changed and helped to make the world a better place. At the end of the day, I NEED to be able to say all of this. Black Lives Matter.