Saturday, July 2, 2016

It Was Supposed to be Better by Now

A few years ago I went to the home of my son-in-law's family for Thanksgiving. There I met two little boys, cousins I think, somewhere just a bit beyond toddlers.  They were so cute, as they bounced around and showed off some new little handheld video games.  I watched them with the delight I always find in children just being children.  And then suddenly I felt the weight of the world.

The news had been filled, at that time, with the controversy over the police shooting of a young black man.  And this had led to the fast and furious exchange of memes and blogs and arguments about violence against and violence and crime within the black community.  And I looked at my daughter, with all her joy in her marriage to her African-American husband, and I looked around the room at his extended, educated, professional family.  I looked at these two beautiful, bright boys, and I wondered about their future survival.  I looked back at my daughter, knowing her desire to have children, and I wondered about the challenges that any children they have might face.  And it wasn't that it was a new line of thinking, but it suddenly just all felt a lot more personal.

I step cautiously into the discussion of racism, but some recent conversations have pushed me to begin to write about some of what has been in my heart since that day.  The caution I feel is my recognition of my whiteness.  I don't pretend to be able to really understand, and I would not presume to speak for any of my black friends or family.  But, I have spoken out some of the words of what I have seen, and what I think, and they say I get it.

I have lived through so many decades of this conversation.  Even when I was young and didn't have the words or the voice, I had feelings and thoughts beyond my ability to express.  And I have the heritage, stories of parents and grandparents transitioning through historic historical times and changing attitudes.  We are our stories.  We are our family's stories.

And I have this, I have my grandchildren.  I have two grandchildren who are half Mexican, one who is half Filipino, and now one who is half African-American. All of them are beautiful and bright and hold my heart in their hands.  I don't know if my voice can or will make a difference in the conversation, but I have to try - for them.

Because, it was supposed to be better by now, we were supposed to be better by now.

I don't know how long this will take, but I am going to try to write everyday, until I say what I need to say.  Please, if you find value, if you want to add to the conversation, I want to hear your voice.  And if you feel inclined, don't hesitate to share my words.  Thank you for caring enough to listen.

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