I am a “Yankee” living in the south. I was born in Queens NY in 1958. I was a tiny child when John Lewis was beaten and left in a Greyhound bus station in Montgomery Alabama, when he and Dr. King spoke in Washington DC on the news and when “Bloody Sunday” happened in Selma.
To be honest I don’t remember much of those days. What I do remember was being in high school, sitting between 2 of my best friends in the band and being called an “Oreo” cookie. You get the idea right, you see they were black and I am white. I didn’t get it, my friends explained and my life was never the same.
We studied the Civil war and it was not the glorious southern version. It was the nitty gritty reality of states wanting to hold slaves, keeping their way of life alive and being traitors to the United States. I was taught that ALL people were equal and yet I kept learning that was not always how life played out. At 20 I had 2 black friends over for dinner one night in late October. The next morning I was asked by my landlord to move. You see I rented in “The Venice”, a very white neighborhood. As my landlady put it “We don’t have THOSE people here, you need to just move.”
I didn’t need that one explained to me. I knew what she meant. I was again the white girl with the black friends. I’ve never changed. I love people for who they are, I work with those less fortunate than me, those who have not had the privileges I have had. My mother was a single Mom but she got by because she was a white woman in a white world. Had I been from a black family, my lessons would have been very different.
During the pandemic I have found a love for painting my feelings. The picture featured in this post is one I did in mid June after George Floyds murder. It is filled with symbols of what I love, and believe, the red blood of lives lost to murder and incarceration and prayers for the clear blue waters of God to wash over us and clean our souls. I am angry, loud and I do not accept the status quo. I stand with my brothers and sisters as a quiet presence, caring for souls, always loving others and seeking joy in the journey. I believe in justice for all my BIPOC friends and family.
My way of being in this world may not be like another’s. I am not another, I am me. I am created in the image of God. I am unique in this universe and like no other. So are you! We each have our place in the story of our country and its racist history. I’m reading more, learning more and trying to pass truth, love, understanding and hope to those around me. I pray that will be MY enough. My holy offering to the Universe who loves, cares and holds us all close, created in one image, bearing the image of God in this creation. Yes, Black Lives Matter!