The Time For Change Is Now

Like many, I have been struggling to find the right words. When I finally feel like I have found them, I am reminded that words alone don’t matter much. Actions speak far louder than words. But then I am faced with another racist or ignorant meme when I scroll through social media and I want to use my words once again. It’s hard… Because how do you promote change in people who have no desire to change?

It is my duty to speak up. It is my duty to stand with POC. These statements are true because I am white. I have white privilege. Its not a hard statement for me to make. I can tell people about my privilege because it is a factual statement. It isn’t a Scarlet Letter that I need to hide from. Its something that simply exists. It just is.

The term white privilege sparks outrage in so many. It shouldn’t. White privilege isn’t meant to make someone feel shame. It doesn’t mean you haven’t worked for anything in your life. It doesn’t mean you are “rich because you are white.” It doesn’t mean you have never gone through hard times. That’s not even remotely what it stands for.

Privilege allows for me to do hundreds of normal everyday things without even thinking about them. I could list 101 things I can do without fear simply because I am white. Things a POC has to think twice about and prepare for (like making sure they don’t wear a hoodie when they go for a run).

I can sit in my car and read peacefully. (Keith Scott)
I can wait by my disabled vehicle for help. (Corey Jones)
I can take a jog. (Ahmaud Aubrey)
I can take a ride in a car. (Jordan Edwards)

I can use a counterfeit $20 Bill. (George Floyd) – Because at the very extreme end of this, I might serve a little jail time if I get a hard ass judge. But we all know, I would have just been asked to leave the store without the items I was trying to buy. Maybe the cops would have been called. Maybe I would have been taken into custody had the store decided to press charges. But you can bet your next paycheck I would have been released within the hour and given a court date. I would still be alive.

There are so many names. So many instances where an innocent life was taken. Had these individuals not been a POC, they would still be alive. And if you are not familiar with their stories and the charges that were or were not filed against their murderers, you should take the time to learn about them.

Nobody is saying cops’ lives don’t matter.
Nobody is saying looting is right.
Nobody is saying you need to be ashamed you are white.
Nobody is saying violence is the answer.
Nobody is saying all lives don’t matter.

What we are saying is that racism and systematic oppression is alive and well. It exists. We are drowning in it. POC are drowning in it.

When you say “All Lives Matter,” it just doesn’t make sense. All lives mattering would include POC. That’s the issue. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter TOO. That’s the point.

The looting is a reaction to inaction. Its that simple. Read it again. The peaceful protests that have been going on since the days of MLK are always met with resistance. Or worse, they are met with silence.

That’s the other side of privilege. My privilege affords me the choice to remain silent. I can stay comfortable if I stay silent. My life doesn’t change if I stay silent. POC cannot remain silent. Because whether they are loud in their protests or whether they mind their own business, they are still being killed. They are still having the cops called on them for walking down a street because they “don’t belong there.” Or maybe they asked a woman to leash her dog in an area that required dogs to be leashed… Surely this warranted a call to 911. How dare someone be so threatening?

We are living in a very bizarre time. Armed protestors upset over being asked to stay home during a pandemic came together to fight for their civil rights. Because this is a “free” country and nobody is going to tell them how to live. How dare the government ask you to wear a mask? How dare they shut down businesses so you can’t shop and get a haircut? The President applauded these people. They weren’t asked to “move back.”

Meanwhile, peaceful protests in the BLM Movement aren’t so lucky. Holding signs and chanting, “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Justice, No Peace,” was just too damn much for y’all. It doesn’t matter where they stand, they are told to “move back.” There’s no place for them… That’s the message. And when they don’t “comply,” when they choose to practice their First Amendment Right (just like those armed protestors mentioned above), they are met with tear gas and rubber bullets.

And you are still wondering why they have resorted to the very loud, very aggressive approach of looting and setting the world on fire?? They aren’t being HEARD. They aren’t being SEEN. They are being pushed aside, arrested, murdered, SILENCED.

So, while they are very much aware that looting “isn’t the answer,” what is?? Because they have been trying to have their voices heard for over a century. They are tired.

The shift in focus always gets me. It happens so seamlessly; it happens swiftly. We went from shock and horror about what happened to George Floyd to outrage and disgust over looting. The narrative has now been changed.

Change. It. Back. It is long past time we recognize that Systematic Oppression and Racism is real. And if you still think it’s all bullshit, I ask you this:

If someone came to you and told you they had the ability to make you black instead of white, would you take them up on it with zero hesitation? It’s just a skin color, right? There’s no difference between the two except that one has more melanin than the other, right? Your everyday life would remain the same, correct? So, you should be fine with the change.

As an ally, its my job to do whatever I can to stand with POC. Not only am I not for racism, I am anti-racism. So I will continue to sign petitions, I will continue to educate myself, I will continue introducing different cultural opportunities to my children, I will continue using my voice. I will do these things and more.

To POC everywhere:
I see you.
I hear you.
I respect you.
I stand with you.

Rebecca Taylor – Ally #BlackLivesMatter

The Picture

We found you yesterday. We all had expected the worst but you are still alive. I’ve been trying to stay positive because you’re alive and that’s a miracle in itself. But you aren’t remembering things, you can’t really talk, and you can’t grasp anything in your hands. You aren’t staying awake for long periods of time and overall, you seem confused. We don’t know much and only time will tell what the future holds.

Yesterday I cleaned and baked; took Olivia for a walk. I was just doing the normal daily routine and trying to stay busy. Staying busy keeps the mind from wandering. Today I have had less motivation to stay busy so mindlessly scrolling through Facebook wins.

I was holding Jameson and Olivia was sitting half on my lap and half on the couch. I had my hands full like always. I picked up my phone and started to scroll when I came across moms Facebook post. It was an update on you along with the Missing Persons poster that the police had shared. Your picture was there; you looking handsome with your perfectly messy hair and crooked smile. Your expression somewhere between, “Should I smile with my whole mouth?” or, “Do I just give them coy?” I stopped and just stared at it for a moment. Feeling stuck between sadness and wanting to giggle because you always have that unsure look on your face when someone asks you to pose for a picture. There’s something deeper to that about you, of course. That constant unsureness…

My favorite pictures of you are the ones I have taken when you weren’t looking or unaware. The ones where we are all together and laughing and I catch you in a moment where you are just being your most vulnerable self. It doesn’t happen too often but the times I have captured it bring me a joy I can’t really put into words, at least not fully. When you laugh, like really laugh, your whole face opens up. You do this thing with your head where you kind of look down or look away like you don’t want us to see all of that light at once. But it’s there… Its bright and sweet and genuine.

I got off track here, because this is really supposed to be about Olivia and her reaction to your picture. So, there we were, the three of us on the couch when I came across your picture. And I really only held my finger there for a moment before I started to scroll again when she said it, “Travis.” But when she says your name it sounds like “Chavassss.” That, in and of itself, is hilarious. An inside joke that only the siblings would understand. Lol. So, she says it and I was certain she was saying something else and I just kept scrolling. But she said it again, “Travis!” She just kept repeating your name and getting frustrated with me until I went back to your picture. When I finally went back to it, she points at your picture and very excitedly says, “Travis. Uncle!” The moment really caught me off guard and I just started to cry.

There is so much significance here. For one, I was shocked that she noticed it was you in a quick scroll and called you out by name. The thing is, I shouldn’t have been shocked. She’s incredibly smart for her age. And I talk about you all the time. Whenever I come across pictures of us, I point you out and say your name, tell her that its Uncle Travis. And you and I have had FaceTime Chats on the phone that Olivia always ends up taking over so she can tell you all about her day. But the truth is, she hasn’t seen you in person since right after Christmas and even then, it was a very brief encounter. It’s been almost four months since she has physically been in a room with you. But she recognized you nonetheless.

Secondly, you have said countless times over the past six months that Olivia doesn’t know who you are. You have mentioned that she doesn’t remember you since you haven’t been around much. I have tried to assure you that she does know who you are because I remind her. And its true. But I can understand why you have been worried about that. And even I had a brief moment of disbelief when she recognized you by picture this morning. But I really shouldn’t have had any sense of doubt. And you shouldn’t either. Let me tell you why…

Its not about how many times I have said your name or shown her a picture of you. Sure, that helps keep you in the back of her mind but that’s not why she knows you, Travis. From the time that I brought her home you were so sweet with her. You were nervous about holding her but you did because you wanted to feel that closeness with her. As she got older, I watched you read to her and play with her. As she became more mobile, you play wrestled with her and pretended to let her win as she crawled all over you. You made her giggle and I watched you smile. Those are all significant moments in her life. They made an imprint on her. YOU made an imprint on her.

You always doubt your light, Travis. You doubt whether or not you have anything to offer the people around you. You shouldn’t have these doubts. You are smart, charming, kind… You are special. If you don’t want to believe any of us since we are family and we “have” to say these things (we don’t), that’s okay.

But you know who you can believe? Olivia. Because she clearly has nothing but good memories up there in her subconscious about you. Enough so to pick your face out of a Facebook scroll and say your name with excitement. She loves her Uncle. And so do I.