The events of 2020 have had me on perhaps the biggest rollercoaster ride of my life.
I started the year — literally on January 1, 2020 — in the hospital unable to walk. After treatment and rehab, I fully recovered. I am convinced it was the many, many prayers of my family, friends and my Dominican community that greatly contributed to that recovery. I truly felt the arms of God holding me.
I was finally able to get out a bit and along came COVID-19. I have felt very sad over the loss of life. I have felt afraid. I have felt grateful that I am well and have all that I need. And I have felt anger at lack of leadership.
In the midst of the global pandemic, we have lost black lives to police brutality and now face the ugly truth of the deep-rooted racism in our country. We have known it. We have denied it. And we have “whitewashed” it with lies.
We now have another opportunity to finally begin to be truthful, to own it, to own our part in it, to educate ourselves and to make the changes needed to truly be one human race.
We white people need to be leading this fight, not the black people. Black people have to fight every day — EVERY DAY — for their survival. We do not need to look to them to also educate us, to show us the way, to be the front line.
We set up these systems and found many ways to keep them in tact for 400 years to suppress BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color); and we must be the force that dismantles them. It will take very hard work and perseverance.
What can we do, we ask? I don’t have all the answers, but I have some thoughts and suggestions. We have to begin. We will stumble. We will fall. We will mess up. But we must keep going. Some things we can do:
Read and educate ourselves. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is a good beginning. DiAngelo is a white woman and she is very clear in explaining white privilege. I Am Still Here by Austin Brown Channing is a great read. Channing is a black woman and illustrates how whiteness dominates our country. There are many great books out there – Google it!
Quit trying to make Black people white! Quit assuming we know how they feel, we don’t! We can’t! Quit thinking the white way is better, it isn’t!
Take a long hard look at your racism — a long look, an honest look. Look every day. You don’t have to share it with anyone but you do have to be willing to sit with yourself and hold yourself accountable.
Find ways to have the hard conversations with family, friends, and neighbors who make racial comments. It has to stop! We can be part of that change. We have to speak up every time.
Pray, pray, pray. God for me is that divine energy that connects us all, that’s all of us, and the expression of God is the many ways we love. Prayer is the gift of love – It brings us into relationship with God and who/what we are praying for. Peace is a relationship that acknowledges differences and still finds a way to stay in relationship and share in the love of God. That divine energy connects our hearts, all our hearts, and provides us the energy to love and stay connected.
While I find myself experiencing deep sorrow every day with the staggering number of deaths from COVID-19, I have a deeper sorrow over humans killing each other. But, I also have hope. Hope in our ability to be humble and honest and in our great desire to do better now that we know better. It is the work of the rest of our lives.