“We Must Start” by Nikkya Hargrove | June 3, 2020
With tensions high, old wounds reopened and many questions without answers, we are a community struggling to make sense of our America. The black community is struggling in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and I, for one, find myself lost, searching deep within myself to navigate my own feelings of anger and fear. Knowing I need to show up for my family, my friends, and my community in a way that helps heal old wounds and gets us working together against injustice. But there are no words to explain why, for almost 9 minutes, a white man thought it necessary to kneel on a black man’s neck, suffocating him, while others watched George call out for his mother just before taking his last breath, on the pavement of a city street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The details of this situation matter. Another black man, dead, gone too soon at the hands of a white person. The word for what “this” is is racism. As a society, we are struggling with acknowledging what happens to our humanity because of racism. How an entire race of people can figuratively and literally beat down, pushed, shoved, tossed aside, and treated as less than should not be a discussion we are having in 2020. Today, we must ask ourselves: where do we go from here?
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama
This is not just a white issue or a black issue. It is not something that the white community or black community must or can fix alone. We must all sit with our own baggage, dust off the moments from the past, release burdens from our American history, yet not forget the injustices and lives lost. As a faith community, we know we must move forward together. Where do we start? How do we put one foot in front of the other when we might feel paralyzed by fear, rage, insecurities, biases?
We must start. We must begin to put in the work and be ok with what that means for us as individuals. We do not need to all start at the same place to push on together. We need to gather our tools, rally our friends and family, and speak up. We can take a workshop to figure out what the starting point might be, register to join an Undoing Racism workshop. Learn the history of America (even if you learned about it in grade school or grew up during that time, a refresher might be due), we must begin the difficult work. We can choose to elevate the voices of our black and brown community, by being quiet for a bit and listening, allowing them to be heard, no matter how uncomfortable their words may make us feel. We can pick up a book by Austin Channing Brown, Ijeoma Oluo, or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Chimamanda is a woman who immigrated from Nigeria to America in 1997, her history with America while storied, is different from those of us whose parents and grandparents drank from black only water fountains, sat in the back of the bus, or lost their lives due to hatred.
We must continue to never forget to do better. We must ask ourselves the tough questions and let the answers guide our actions. We must work to create a different story for us all here in America.
In 2021, what story will we tell ourselves about what we did for our community when they needed us the most?
Read Nikkya’s recent article “To My White Mom Friends: Here’s How To Be An Ally” at this link.