For years I haven’t put much thought to racism. I’m ashamed to say it, but it’s true.
I’ve been taught my whole life not to judge by skin color, and honestly, I am just usually happy when anyone wants to be my friend.
I figured I was doing my part just by being kind to everyone.
That’s partly true.
But when Coronavirus reared its head into society, I learned something valuable.
When news of the pandemic broke out, I was afraid. I’ll say it. I’m not ashamed of that. Not for me, but for my asthmatic son, my brother in law on oxygen, and dear friends in the medical field.
So I bought the toilet paper (I didn’t hoard it, I promise.) I sanitized all the things. And told my kids we were ready to hunker down. I didn’t scare them, I just informed them that we were keeping others safe.
Scrolling social media (because seriously what else was there to do?) I noticed something quickly. Not everyone thought this was a big deal like I did.
That was OK with me because I don’t ever expect someone else to think like me. I appreciate all opinions and thoughts because it’s important that everyone has a voice.
But then, things got mean. Names started getting thrown around.
My heart hurt. I just wanted people to see me and understand that I cared about all of it.
The virus. The economy. The kids who desperately need school in their lives (because not everyone has a safe home to quarantine in).
And the spiral of anger began in me. It caused my eyes to scale and I refused to see any other side.
Slowly, our economy has begun reopening. My county has, thankfully, only seen five cases of COVID-19 with zero hospitalizations. That number has held since things opened back up.
And now, I scroll and see so many posts from people angry at others for sitting in a restaurant or living life again.
Idiots (this tends to be a popular one in all directions).
I hope the hospital won’t take you when you get the Rona.
And it hurts. I’m being safe. I’m following the regulations. But still, people are just so angry. I just want to be seen and validated—maybe that’s silly, but there it is.
Then when the video of George Floyd came across my newsfeed, I couldn’t watch it. I thought for a moment, I’m OK because I love everyone.
I’ve shied away from the posts of my black friends who fear for their children because I don’t feel adequate to respond.
But when I thought about how I’ve felt during the pandemic, I suddenly started to see.
They need validated. They need us to look into their hearts and see their reasons. Understand their fears. And be willing to say, “I might not be experiencing that myself, but I know you are and I know it hurts. And I’m sorry.”
If we all search ourselves, we will find a place reaching out and asking others to see. I know I do.
So, that’s what I am doing.
The only difference I might ever make—other than teaching my kids by example—is to look into another’s eyes and say, “I hear your heart. I stand beside you in your hurt. Even if I don’t know it myself. You are loved.”