Featured Photo: Langston Garfield at a Black Lives Matter Protest
Maddox, Langston, Paxton. When I see George Floyd, I see my sons. It brings tears to my eyes. Tears of sadness that many in this country hate them and assume terrible things about them for no other reason than their skin color. Tears of sadness that many in this country will walk to the other side of the street when they see them coming or any other countless forms of fear and judgment. Tears of sadness that many in this country will disdain them, look down upon them, and treat them as less than human. I think the greatest sadness is that what all of these things have in common is that they won’t be seen as wonderful, beautiful, and precious humans worthy of being treated with dignity, kindness, and love simply because they are humans.
I am a white man with three African-American sons. My wife and I have many different emotions, but mostly we are heartbroken. We realize in some very small way we are entering into the emotions that black parents have had for generations, and we are grateful for these emotions. We don’t want to be blind; we don’t want ease and comfort while others struggle and suffer for no other reason than the color of their skin.
At our most recent weekly team meeting, we discussed the latest round of senseless murders of black people in our country and the subsequent riots and protests.
Some quietly listened, some shared stories, some cried. For some, they have no direct link to what is going on, and for others, this is deeply personal; this is their family members. We talked about how we can help bring change.
Maybe change can start by moving toward people. Move toward people with humility that leads to asking questions, listening, learning, understanding, and most of all, empathy. Now is not a time for rebuttals, arguments, politics, condemning rioting and kneeling for the national anthem and many peripheral contentions. Now is a time to grieve, to grow, to change, to cautiously hope. Now is a time to focus on and work on the real evils and problems, together.
Change can start by having challenging and uncomfortable conversations.
You and I, our families, our friends, our neighbors make up this country, our communities, our police forces, our systems. If we want racism to end in our country, in our police forces, in our systems, it doesn’t start with us saying we aren’t racist, that we aren’t a part of the problem, etc. It starts with us determining we can and will be a part of the many solutions that exist whatever they may be or may cost us.
To our black friends, family, and beyond, we will sit, stand, kneel with you. We are not you. We can never fully enter into your history and experience and walk in your shoes, but we will try, and we will be here with you. You don’t have to be alone in the battle for change; we will battle with you. We will stand with you one conversation, one relationship, one opportunity, one law, one petition, one protest, and beyond, at a time.
Drew Garfield + The SR/A Team