On May 7, 2020 I posted the following on my Instagram
Please excuse the presumption, but I believe that a lot of you are here because I am not intimidating or different or edgy. I’m the friendly, funny, pudgy white girl who’s baking pies, for Pete’s sake! And I want to use my position as your friendly neighborhood Catholic mom to say something:
We need to look inside ourselves and see the ways that we are racist. I have had to do this over and over and shamefully over again in the last few years so that I can identify and root out the ways that *I* am racist. I have had to think through and hand over to Jesus the deep-seated assumptions and biases I have about people from other cultures and races. Every time I find them my heart breaks from disappointment. I hate that such ugliness is inside of me. But the only way that I can get it out is to address it. It is my responsibility as a human, a Christian, a Catholic, and an American to do this. It is my responsibility as a mom. It is my responsibility as someone who calls herself pro-life. .
I am holding a picture of Ahmaud Arbery. In February he was out for his daily run when two white men saw him and assumed he was a criminal. Those men got their guns, got in their truck, chased Arbery down, and shot him. They shot a 25-year-old man who was jogging because he was black and to them that meant that he was a criminal. Those two men were not arrested or charged. In Georgia. In 2020. (They were arrested several hours after this was posted.) I did not hear about this story in February. I did not hear about it earlier in the week when a video of his murder was released. I heard about it today and I wanted to make sure you heard about it, too, because I knew you would care. Because Ahmaud deserves justice. Because black lives matter. Because this is a pro-life issue. Because black men are made in the image and likeness of God. Because racism is still alive and well in the United States today.
And I know sometimes it’s hard to hear these things from people who are always angry or soapboxing or pointing fingers. But maybe you will hear it from me, the folksy lady with cookies. And maybe together we can do and be better, for Ahmaud’s sake.
You can see the picture and original posting here, if you’re interested, but I’d rather you stay here so we can talk about something.
That post lost me a lot of followers, and that was okay. A lot of the people who left weren’t wanting to engage. A few would go on to post conspiracy theories and, ultimately, support an attempted coup at the Capitol. Some accused me of virtue signaling and they left, too. But I’ll tell you what – I was scared to post that picture. I was scared of looking a fool. I was scared of saying something in public because I knew I would also likely fail in public. I was scared of the screenshots and text messages and private threads about me. I was scared of angry DMs.
But I was scared to *not* post that picture. I was scared of the complacency I would continue in if I didn’t have some kind of community and accountability. I was scared that five, ten, fifty years down the line my children and grandchildren would stand as my judges, demanding why I didn’t do better. I was haunted by memories of visiting a friend in Germany, and the way her grandmother – who baked us a chocolate cake from scratch and washed my clothes and wrung them out to dry – would not talk about her youth. My husband goes to work each day, interacting with hundreds between his co-workers and students, most of whom are white, straight, and middle class but many of whom are BIPOC and / or LBGTQ. But I stay home and mostly interact with my children and I knew I needed something more, and I very sincerely thought I wasn’t alone in that.
I was scared that if I didn’t really focus on the human being, the beloved child of God Ahmaud Arbery and the unjust loss of his life that I would be a part of the problem. Because – Oh my God! – I was part of the problem!
And I did find a group of women who were happy to welcome me on this journey, but I also quickly saw that they were hurt and tired and they were not there to hold my hand or make my journey comfortable. I do not in any way think that they are wrong to feel the way they do and I’m not trying to ambiguously shame anyone. I want to make that very, very clear. I believe that systemic racism is real. I believe that white privilege is real. I believe that if the people at the January 6th coup would have been Black and Brown they would be dead. I believe the USA needs to do better and be better when it comes to issues of race.
I learned a lot from these women, some pretty painfully, but after awhile I saw that I would need to watch and listen from a distance. Who, how, and where I am does not line up with what many of the BIWOC need right now and their justifiable feelings often left me feeling worn down and unwanted. While I wasn’t afraid of their hurt, I also knew that I could not keep absorbing their emotions and do some really hard work on my own part. It just wasn’t working because I need(ed) to remember the Circle of Support.
However, along the way I still felt very strongly that these words were still true:
…I know sometimes it’s hard to hear these things from people who are always angry or soapboxing or pointing fingers. But maybe you will hear it from me, the folksy lady with cookies. And maybe together we can do and be better…
I came to see that there were possibly three camps. First, those who left right away because I wrote the sentence, “Black lives matter.” Second, those I seem to continually disappoint and frustrate with white women tears and playbooks and landmines I keep stepping on and blowing up in their faces. I also came to see that these two camps were never going to be happy with me. Nothing I do will ever be enough and that’s okay. I’m not their savior and they are not mine. We have a Savior: Jesus Christ.
I don’t need to try to walk with them or get them to like me. And that conclusion was so freeing. It allowed me to continue to give myself the space to do what I could, when I could. It gave me the freedom to have a few awkward conversations and to find peace with lost partnership opportunities. It opened up the headspace so I could research local, black or brown -owned businesses and support them. It meant that I could actually do the work in real life of changing my default instead of just talking about it online. (I mean, I was doing the work for well before Ahmaud’s death, and I’m glad I spoke out online, but it was time for me to just get to work again, you know?)
And it also allowed me to really focus on that possible third group: women like me who want to do better and be better but don’t know how to do that. Women who need the grace to take time, to think things through, to wrestle with decades of not knowing what we don’t even know. Women who don’t want to feel like a villain, but also want to recognize any culpability and sins. Women who sometimes need to be silent, not because they are apathetic or scared, but because they *need* to. Because our traumas, limitations, and hardships are real, too. I think this is a good thing and I feel grateful to be in this position.
So when I say, “No one is happy, nothing is good enough, love the one your with,” it doesn’t mean that I have given up, but that I have realized the role God has called me to work in the vineyard. The laborers are few and I need to be where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do. I will be known by my fruits and the measure with which I measure will be measured out for me. (Matthew 7: 16, 2)
Maybe this all sounds like self-indulgent twaddle, and probably a good portion of it is, but I felt like a foundation needed to be built for what I’m going to say next.
I haven’t had a lot of bandwidth recently, between being sick with covid and distance learning and other, private matters. Whatever extra bandwidth I had has been used up on taking in and processing everything that’s going on in our nation. Reading about the Constitution, trying to understand the difference between the 25th Amendment and impeachment, raving to my husband about why true Republicans (fiscal and moral conservatives who believe in smaller government) are not loudly and clearly distancing themselves from the alt right terrorists, rioters, racists, and Holocaust deniers who stormed the Capitol Building to stage a coup to keep Trump in power. (I mean: whaaaaaaat?!!!)
My lack of bandwidth meant I didn’t want to speak out or post online. I knew I couldn’t think through any kind of hard conversation where I was the hostess. So when a friend, a POC, did post, I ignored the rules of the Circle of Support and challenged something she said. I took advantage of the situation and I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize for that. I apologize for whatever scandal that may have caused. I apologize for whatever salt I may have poured on those wounds.