Today, I’m primarily addressing my white, Christian loved ones. I’m doing so out of love and encouragement, though many of you will likely not readily receive the piece of perspective I’d like to offer up. Once again, I see and hear your earnest expressions of anger and disgust at athletes who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem. I know you are defending your country and the sacrifices that have been made to make our lifestyles possible. I know that these feelings come from a good and honest place in the heart of a patriot. That being said, I fear that we the majority are not understanding this act for what it truly is. Not an act of anarchy or of hate, but it is the start of a conversation. A conversation that maybe this group of people have been asking us to join for a long time with little results. We have an opportunity here to better ourselves first on an individual level, an opportunity to examine and correct our own biases and flaws. But first, we must recognize that we have dropped the ball. We are so quick to be proud of what we as a country have done right, I’m afraid we wear blinders to the problems that still exist. As a white woman, I know what is said behind closed doors, when our colleagues of color aren’t there. Just in my professional career, I’ve seen their hard-earned accomplishments belittled. I’ve heard tasteless comments by the droves. I’ve seen people of color used as scapegoats and workhorses when, in fact they had SO much to offer. And yes, behind closed door, and even in front of our children, many of us aren’t the equality preaching humanitarian we claim to be on social media. These issues add up and reach beyond the individual level and cause serious systemic problems. If you are angry because these displays suggests that our beloved country, and perhaps you as an individual may have some flaws, then I’m afraid nothing is going to ease your rage, as this kind of denial is exactly why these individuals are going to such “extreme measures.” They are advocaring for a group of AMERICANS who are disproportionately being killed and socially brushed to the side. If you are angry because these displays are “unamerican,” I encouraged us, the majority to step up to bat. The ball has been thrown, lets seize this opportunity instead of dwelling on how offended we are. I’m asking no one to apologize for their skin color. I’m not sympathizing with hateful radicals on any front. I’m just asking that we exercise our Christian values on a very basic level and listen to those who have walked a very different walk than ourselves. Which do you love more? Your fellow countrymen? Or a piece of cloth?
If I had to pinpoint a moment when my official adult life started, I’d say it was a little more than seven years ago. In August 2008, I moved to a town where I, for the first time ever, didn’t share a zip code with any relative or friend.
Since then, I’ve started and completed a college degree. I’ve worked several jobs. I’ve built relationships with some awesome people whom I love dearly. I’ve started a career. I’ve married a man with a heart of gold and we have a happy baby boy.
From a blank slate, I’ve made a very successful life in this place. I still have my loving family, but life has scattered us in such a way that I do not see them routinely. I’m sure that there are countless others my age who share a similar story.
Now, I’ll rewind a bit further. As ambitious a teenager as I was, I was never planning to start my “grown-up adventure” solo. My very dear friend that had been my co-pilot through years of awkward adolescence and embarassing shenanigans had been accepted to the same university as me. It was the perfect plan. The girl who laced most every memory from elementary school on, would be by my side for our next big adventure. Except, I lost Rosie that spring in a car accident.
Fast forward to present. I still get sad. Sad in ways I had never anticipated. Sad for reasons that I would have never been able to wrap my head around when the wounds were fresh and I was trying to build some semblance of a routine with what felt like my half-self. Nearly a decade later, I no longer feel the gaping void in my day. I don’t reach for the phone to call her, or put my face in clothes she left at my place, hoping for a shadow of her scent. But I do get sad. I get sad that I can’t reminisce with my new friends and family about her. That when I bring up her name, I feel crazy, speaking about an imaginary friend that they have never seen. I rarely go places where we spent time, or see people that we saw, and as a result, I lose her more each year. Things I was certain I’d never forget are getting fuzzy. Some days, she doesn’t even cross my mind. I grieve the loss of details, of inside jokes, of a look, or a sound. I grieve the loss of the grieving. This is a journey that I’m still traveling. And, as life moves forward, I’ll experience more loss. Time heals broken hearts, but the price is a clouded memory and a guilty concience. I have comfort in knowing that we shared a lot of love and a hundred years can never erase that.