Saturday, June 17, 2017


i had a hard time settling on a theme this year. i usually pick one around thanksgiving of the year before, but in 2016, november passed. december passed. and january came. my brain was a smorgasbord of unconnected thoughts and sentiments, often in conflict with each other. a few days before the women's march, i read an op ed by char adams that expressed (well-founded) skepticism about whether white women (e.g., yours truly) would show up for women of color in 2017. she ended with a laudable message:

so, on the day after trump's inauguration, i will be marching with the tens of thousands (and maybe millions!) of women and men who want to take a stand on social justice. i will stand in solidarity with those fighting for human rights. i will make my voice heard, and listen to the voices of those around me.

i was particularly struck by the final line and chose it as my 2017 theme (thanks, char adams!): i will make my voice heard, and listen to the voices of those around me.

so here we are in june. a minnesota jury - 10 white + 2 black - acquitted the police officer who shot and killed philando castille during a traffic stop last year. my sincerest condolences to family and close friends of philando castille.

i first heard about the verdict through a women's march instagram post:

we ask all our supporters - but particularly our white supporters - to show up for black folks in the fight against police violence as fiercely as you showed up on january 21.

so here i am. not as an endpoint, but for starters: i do not have adequate words for what is in my heart and mind.

i do not know philando castille and i do not know his family. but when i see their faces in the news, i see people who look like people i know and love. i see people who are more than snapshots of grief and trauma. i see people with personal stories like mine.

and if i'm being honest, i also see people with personal stories that feel distant from mine. people who don't look like most of the people in my family. or at my church. or neighborhood. or workplace.

it makes me wonder: if i encountered philando castille on the street instead of in the news, what would i see in him? what judgments would i make? how would i act? the uncomfortable truth is, i don't know. i hope that i would see in his face the faces of people i know and love. i hope that, if given the opportunity, he would become someone i know and love. but i. don't. know.

i have a lot of work to do. and i'm asking you - particularly my white brothers and sisters - to join me. let's step outside spaces where most people look like us, mourn with those that mourn, and prepare ourselves to hear hard truths.

let's put our bodies on the line - understanding that white bodies in particular are valued differently in our country - to support our black brothers and sisters. our support starts with conversation but it cannot end there.

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