I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve drafted this piece over the last several days. My heart and my head have been all over the place. Those who know me best can tell you I am the kind of person who contemplates and ponders and questions and stews and digs deep to connect with and challenge her personal truth before publicly sharing thoughts on anything.
Just because I haven’t called your attention to the sound of my revving engine doesn’t mean my foot hasn’t been solidly planted on the gas. It’s just that I’ve been swerving a little bit. I’ve been struggling to find my lane. Until I realized I don’t have to leave the lane I’m in. I can start right where I am … I am certainly on the right side of the road already.
I remember a black girl I was friends with in elementary school. I remember kids saying the wrong words to her. Asking her why her skin was brown. Telling her she didn’t belong because she didn’t look like the rest of us. Making a joke that she didn’t need to wear the Brownie uniform because she was already brown. I remember the way my cheeks flushed and my neck got warm each time I heard these things. I remember her trying not to cry. I remember wanting to tell the other kids they were being mean. My words were there but my mouth didn’t say them. I don’t know why. I remember staying with my friend when the others ran away. I remember telling the librarian and the Brownie troop leader what had happened. While lots of childhood memories fade as we grow older, these have remained so vivid for me. And, I have always wished I spoke up louder.
As a kid, I was taught to be color blind. To accept all people regardless of their background. I have always lived by the Golden Rule.
But, it’s not enough. It never was.
I am starting where I am. I want to be part of a shift in the recovery movement. I want to find a way to ensure the spaces where I have found the greatest comfort, support, and resources on my journey feel as welcoming and safe to the black community as they have to me. I don’t know specifically how I am going to do that. But I am promising not to turn my back. We have some incredible anti-racism role models and leaders in this space who are far more eloquent and outspoken than I am – it is an honor to receive their wisdom and guidance and become empowered by their example. I am watching and learning and asking and listening and brainstorming.
The other day I heard a black woman say
we won’t see the changes we’re desire in this lifetime.
Let’s do all we can to prove her wrong.