Silence Isn’t Comfortable

I can’t sleep. It’s 3 a.m. and the house is still and quiet, but I can’t sleep. My husband sleeps soundly next to me, because although he loves me and our children, our realities are somewhat different. Our fears are different. Our anxieties are different.

He is white and I am black.

My Fears

There’s a battle in my mind with so many thoughts and questions running around: What do I do, what do I say, how do I react, do I react at all? Yet, I’m silent because at times, I’m speechless. I’m gasping for air, aimlessly grasping for words. My words escape me because I’m overcome, literally overtaken by fear. My eyes begin to water as I think of the things I’ve seen, I’ve heard, I’ve witnessed.

What has this world come to? What has this country come to? Has my country always been this way, but I am just now experiencing it in a new and real way?

Do I need to worry about my safety here in this relatively quiet town of Colorado Springs? I am surrounded by my loving family and friends, most of whom are white. What do they think of all this? For the most part they are silent, too.

My Friends

Some speak up, but don’t actually say the real words. Words like racism. Some stay silent and we live with this elephant sitting in the corner, looking at us, begging for us to throw peanuts his way. Do I bring it up? Do I wait for them to? If I open up this conversation, will their inevitable prejudices show? Can I handle that? Can we still be friends?

I know they hate injustice and my heart knows they love me and my family. But do they love that stranger who is being spit on, beaten, screamed at, told she is trash, told he isn’t worth anything, told she is “less than” and told that he should die? Do they love those who are being murdered? Those precious people who look just like me and their sons, who look just like mine.

Their silence has me questioning…

My Children

As a mother, I have to speak up. Those little eyes are looking at me. Watching me. Waiting for my movement. Ready to hear my thoughts and feel my reassurances that they will be ok, that I will be ok. That life for them will be as I promised: Beautiful. Because my son is moving closer to being a teenager, he hears and understands so much more than we give him credit for or want to believe he can.

He’s watching me, I can feel it.

He’s waiting for my next move and waiting for me to say, “It’s ok. You are safe. That’s not happening here. That’s happening over there, down there.” But my words don’t meet him because I can’t be sure.

Are we safe? Is it just happening “over there” or “down there?”

No.

I’m not ignorant enough to think it’s not happening right here, closer than we think. Rather, it’s just that those other people are bolder and surrounded by likeminded arrogance and likeminded hatred and likeminded prejudices and likeminded racists. 

Racism Lives

Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen and heard of black men, women and children who have been beaten, murdered, accused and unjustly imprisoned (enslaved) all because of the color of their skin. It’s a normal way of life  now, so no one wants to talk about it.

Will anyone with the power to make a change take a stand? Who is standing up for us? Who is throwing down their iron fists to say, “No. Not here. Not in my country. THIS is not to be tolerated.”

I am afraid. I used to just be afraid for my children who also have my dark skin. But now, I’m also afraid for myself—who will protect me? Who will protect us from them? Who was supposed to protect these people?

I am a mother. While I will defend and protect my children until my dying breath, who will do that for me? For us all? Who in this country has a “motherly instinct” or “motherly love” for us, the downtrodden, those living in a world where many think they are better than us just because they have less melanin in their skin?

Melanin: The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. And because of that, some people hate us. 

Positive Change

Honestly, talking about it is just the beginning, but I’m not interested in having too many redundant conversations. I’m not interested in statistics or in excuses or in reasoning as to why racism is happening. And I’m simply not interested in talking about “other” injustices right now or “more important” issues.

I’m tired of hearing, “If they didn’t do this, then this wouldn’t happen.” Or “If they weren’t this way, then this wouldn’t happen.” Can we just stop with empty reasoning?

I’m not interested in anything other than people coming out of their holes and taking a stand for what’s right and outwardly and openly teaching their children that hate is not making this country what it should be—that hate is killing us. That we won’t tolerate it. 

We have a responsibility as parents, as mothers, to sit our kids down and look them in the eyes and give it to them straight. Stop pretending they aren’t hearing what their world is like or that they don’t hear snippets of the news because this is happening RIGHT NOW in front of our faces.

I don’t have answers.

But I am open to any helpful ideas on how I am to raise my children in a world that is home to people who hate them and their mother. 

Racism is alive and well and also quite emboldened. We should all be outraged into some type of positive change. Please… hold my hand. Stand with me. Stand up for me. And for my children. And stand up for others who happen to have been born with an extra drop of melanin in their skin. 

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7 Responses to Silence Isn’t Comfortable

  1. Lindsie
    Lindsie September 5, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you Sarah. I have been wrestling with this and haven’t found the right words. I have shyed away from bringing it up publicly. I’m not sure what to say and I’m not sure what I have to say in this wide internet world will make a difference. But I pray in our home and with people we interact with face to face, that we stand for truth, stand against injustice and love well. Most of the time I feel like I’m fumbling through and am ill-equipped even as a mom of a mulit-cultural family to delve into racism, but even if I’m fumbling through I’m committed to press forward. Thank you for your words, your challenge and your honesty.

  2. Gretchen
    Gretchen September 5, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    Sarah, thank you for writing this post and sharing your thoughts with us.

  3. Kristin
    Kristin September 5, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    Beautifully well said Sarah.
    You are correct, many people are uncomfortable with this topic, and it HAS emboldened those motivated by hate and bigotry. Silence is tacit approval. When no one stands in opposition, then support and approval are assumed. We can no longer afford to stay silent in our discomfort.
    I learned about tacit approval, and what silence can mean at a young age. I’m teaching my children about what is going on. I am standing firm in teaching them that it is wrong. And I’m teaching them (I hope) to stand and speak out, to not join the ranks of the silent.
    I don’t want to live in a world where someone has to be afraid because they have that extra drop of melanin. That’s not right or just. I don’t want that for your children. I don’t want that for my children.
    So, yes, I will stand with you.
    Anytime. Anywhere.
    Every time. Everywhere.

  4. Nancy Todaro September 5, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    Sarah,

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us and especially your fears.

    I have two adopted nephews that have more melanin in their skin than I do and I love them dearly. I do fear for them and for what and who they might encounter on a daily basis.

    I am learning to leave them in the LORD’S hand for protection, for wisdom in unsure situations, and for grace and forgiveness when they are faced with hate.

    I greatly appreciate and admire your honesty, Sarah.

    Nancy Todaro

  5. Evelyn E Rennich
    Evelyn E Rennich September 5, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    Sarah, thank you for sharing. This. Is. Powerful. Standing with you, friend!

  6. Julie September 17, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    I vow to NOT stand quietly by when I witness hate, racism, or bullying of any kind. How can we expect our children to do right if we don’t rise up to protect anyone who is being bullied, harassed or mistreated in any way. Sarah, you are not alone.

  7. Parmeeta September 17, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    I think about this more often that I should have to… I worry about it more than I should have to. Thank you for writing this as it reminds me there is one more person on his side.

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