I have never claimed to be perfect, friends. I have hesitated to speak my heart on this matter, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to put the right words together. But I realized that I have to try.
As violence creeps closer to my side of the river, I am fearful. I am afraid that the riots will reach my town, and I'm not really reassured by the mayor putting the National Guard on stand-by or the sheriff's department saying they have extra precautions in place and are cooperating with their law enforcement partners. I do not like this feeling that I may not be safe. I'm supposed to be doing a job over there today, close to where there has been some property damage, where stores have been closed and boarded up as a precaution, and I don't really want to. Why should I put myself into potential danger?
But y'all, I am a white woman living in rural America. I have the privilege of living in a place where I feel safe, almost all the time. I have the privilege of not putting myself in unnecessary danger. I have the privilege of knowing that my local police force won't assume that I'm up to no good. I can go for a walk around the "block," and not be afraid. For me, being home equals being safe, and to be honest, it is unlikely that the riots will come here.
For so many, being afraid is a daily occurrence. For black men living in America, feeling unsafe is a way of life. Black men don't feel safe in their own neighborhoods, friends. They don't feel safe jogging around the block. They don't feel safe walking down the street. They don't feel safe at the dog park. Even if they happen to live in an affluent suburb or in a "safe" rural area. For them, it isn't even a question of whether they will be in danger--it is a question of when. And unfortunately, they're afraid, for good reason, of those who are sworn to protect them.
That is just wrong.
We are broken, friends. I don't see a solution, but I do see hope. Let's keep talking about this. Let's listen to each other, because it seems to me, relationship is the only way through. Let's be good humans. Let's love each other. Fiercely.
One more thing: don't mistake violence for protest. The rioters don't care about George Floyd or institutional racism--all they care about is stirring up trouble, and they are doing an excellent job at that. The rioters are making racial disparity in Minneapolis worse, by scaring and displacing residents who have nowhere else to go, by burning down grocery stores, by causing public transit to be shut down.
In this epicenter of the storm, the protesters are peaceful, just wanting to be heard, and stirring up trouble of a different kind. The protesters are stirring up heart trouble for all of those of us who didn't realize this problem exists, or those of us who have become complacent, or those of us who don't think they can be a part of a solution. Oppression is only possible if those who are not oppressed won't stand for those who are.