On Sunday morning, I walked into The Waffle House of Bethlehem, Georgia, with my mom, her boyfriend and my three-month-old baby for some greasy, yet delicious, breakfast. In case you weren't familiar, this is a landmark restaurant of the south.
The majority of folks in this place were white.
As we were leaving, I saw a black guy entering wearing a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt.
I made sure to tell him on my way out that I liked his t-shirt. He said thanks and was really warm and friendly, complimenting me on such a cute baby.
On the way home, I was thinking how much I wished I had been wearing a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt too. I am not sure, but my guess is, he was probably feeling pretty alone in that space. What an opportunity I missed, as a white person, to say that "black lives matter".
That Monday, on Martin Luther King Junior Day, we sat down together with a group of community members and friends to watch the documentary "The 13th".
It was powerful and heavy, and I felt a weight of responsibility after learning, for the first time, so much information about the ongoing racism in my country.
Some might say the documentary tells one side of the story. I would say it is a story worth listening to, even if that may be true! If there is bias, then let's listen, research and discuss it together in persuit of truth.
That night I ordered a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt from the National Civil Rights Museum and I plan to wear it A LOT.
Here are my reasons why:
Listening, and then being a voice for those who feel oppressed (especially those who are different then you), is something I want to model for the kids we work with. It's biblical.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice."
Martin Luther King Jr. Said, "I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear?"
I want to show that I'm listening, that I care.
Even if I may not align with everything the movement represents, I still strongly believe #blacklivesmatter needs to be said in this country. Just a basic look at history clears up the question of "why?" for me.
I have a unique opportunity, as a white person, to say #blacklivesmatter in circles that might feel they have little reason to listen and engage this message. I believe stirring up conversation is ALWAYS good when it comes to tough, complicated issues.
Me, wearing that t-shirt might perk up the ears of some people who could otherwise turn away.
The issues that the #blacklivesmatter movement brings to light, like mass incarcerations, unjust laws, and police brutality, effect my immigrant neighborhood and the kids we work with directly. The movement is working to unite the voices of underprivileged, under-resourced people, and their allies, in this country, and I want to be a part of that!
In my heart I know I need to do something. Knowing what I now know about the plight of my black brothers and sisters in this country, I can't sit back and just hope it gets better.
But it is hard to feel like there is anything I could possibly do to make a difference in the huge, powerful and broken systems in our country. I take heart in these words:
"People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do."
I hope to have my t-shirt by Saturday so I can wear it to the Women's March in downtown Atlanta!