Speak up

This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

To tell you the truth…I haven’t really known what to say or what to do. I know that I want to step up and say something, to use the knowledge that I’ve gained from years of equity work and years of studying the brutal and nasty history of our country and the world, but I don’t quite know what to say or how to say it. This is my privilege…I’m lucky that I get to choose when and whether I speak up or not. I can choose if I want to get involved in something or if I just want to stay in the background and let others continue to keep up the debate.

But, if I choose to continue to do this with this current crisis…I choose to say that I am Ok with the way things are, or that I hope someone else will speak up for me or that eventually things will quiet down and we can go back to normal. I can’t do that anymore. There are too many people being hurt or worse for nothing. There continues to be too much pain and injustice. So the time has come for me to stop being silent. But, I can’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. So I’m going to share what I’m going to do and hope that in some way it encourages or helps you. Also my wife said what I was feeling so much better and more beautifully than me so I hope you will check out her words here as well.

I’m going to have more conversations about race and injustice with my kids. I had already started talking about this with my kids little by little, but I need to tell them more. While it is painful to have to bring up such heavy and disturbing targets at such a young age, my kids have had the privilege of not having to worry about being treated differently because of their skin color since the day they were born.

I’m going to make sure they interact with and see people that look different from them and that they generally want to learn about and try to empathize with their experiences. My kids will never be able to fully empathize and understand what it’s like to grow up with dark skin, but they can at least listen, learn and support the organizations and systems that promote the growth of equity.
I’m going to be more vocal and to call out injustice. I am timid. I am shy. I am not someone who likes confrontation or uncomfortable situations. But, if I allow that to control me and keep me from speaking I am doing nothing to help those who need it and once again leaning on my privilege to sit in the background and be safe.

I’m not going to ask people of color to tell me what I should do or why I should care. I’m not going to ask them to educate me. I will happily listen to them when they want to share their personal story, but it is not their job to train me on the injustice that has been prevalent for so many years. That’s my job…and it’s my job to make sure that they don’t have to continue to bear that burden alone.

I’m going to pray. I’m going to ask God for strength, for comfort, for peace, and for change. Things are not Ok and I can’t keep shoving it aside and hoping that it will get better. I need to actively pray…listen…and then do something about it

I’m sad. I’m sickened. I’m frustrated. I’m ashamed. And I’m going to make sure that I do something about it and that my children see and understand it as well and hopefully as they grow older will be inspired to act. Shame and guilt only are effective if you channel them into action. It’s time for me to take this feeling and start to use it for good. I believe that black lives matter and that we can’t say that all lives matter until we support and lift up the large parts of our population that feel as though they don’t.

This is fatherhood…

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