The events in our country recently have created much unease across the nation. What happened to George Floyd was, without question, appalling, heartbreaking, and so blatantly cruel. The negativity toward our police officers is disheartening because the majority of them are truly here to serve and protect all of us. And the looting and destruction of property in cities across the country is terrifying and unsettling.
In our house we have found ourselves having uncomfortable conversations. My husband and I are white, and thus, have white children. Still, with similar backgrounds, my husband and I feel uncomfortable expressing our feelings to one another, even in the security of our own home. It is as if we shouldn’t have an opinion, or a voice, because of the color of skin we were born with. And we have no idea what to tell our children. This is disheartening. It disrupts our world.
But then I realized perhaps that is the point.
I remind my students all the time they must be uncomfortable to learn. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” I tell them. And in my career and goals in life I absolutely believe that’s true.
So why should I think this moment, right now, should be any different? Why am I so uncomfortable in the skin God gave me right now?
So, laying here before bed, I tell my husband, “Perhaps the point is to make us feel uncomfortable, because maybe that’s what it’ll take to really help us learn.” He agreed.
So what can we learn? We can learn to identify with the feeling of being singled out because of the color of our skin. This can help us learn that just because our skin identifies us as part of a demographic, doesn’t mean we are all the same, or are all what we are perceived to be by society. It can help us understand what it’s like to be judged by the color of our skin and not by who we are as a person.
My husband and I don’t judge based on skin tone, heritage, or background. We choose to get to know people and understand who each unique person is. But we do not know what it is like to be Black, or Asian, or Hispanic. This list doesn’t end here either. All we can identify with is being Caucasian, having English heritage and being born and raised in the United States. This is who we are, how we grew up, and all we know.
This week we only get a small glimpse into what it feels like to be judged by the color of our skin. Only a brief moment of feeling uncomfortable with how we look. For us, this will likely pass. But for many this is how they feel everyday of their lives. There are not just fleeting moments of discomfort. Not just temporary squirms and feeling of injustice. For many there’s no reprieve. No solace. Only anguish and pain, and a longing to be treated as equal, without the fear of being shot for simply wearing a hoodie on a cold night.
So perhaps it is time for us to be pushed out of our comfort zones. Maybe then we can learn. Maybe then we can try to understand.
My husband, also brought up a thought provoking observation. The news, while attempting to remain unbiased, was still not giving a voice to those peacefully protesting. Those on stage, that the news anchors praised for influencing peaceful demonstrations, were still not being heard. Those of us in the comfort of our own homes do not know what these speakers are saying. We cannot learn from them. Their voices continue to be lost.
So without truly knowing what the message is, I can only assume. I am just guessing, grasping at straws in an attempt to understand and relate. But my new discomfort is stirring up thought provoking topics, all in an attempt to think of how we can be a part of the solution. How we can inspire change in our future generations.
It should not matter what color someone’s skin is. It is unacceptable for us to judge someone based on their profession. There is much more good in this world than bad. Many amazing individuals waiting to be seen for their uniqueness. And part of that unique identity comes from the differences in cultures and views of our world. It is time we step outside our comfort zones. It’s time we all work toward the common goal of equality and social justice. It is time we listen to one another, and give strength and voice to those who need to be heard. It’s time to make the world a better place.