A close up of tall grass in a field

I’ve written so many drafts of this. I’ve sought advice. I’ve written and erased, but I want to share my experiences as I navigate this pivotal time in history.  

I think many of us have been lost for words. 

I was lost for words in Los Angeles, seeing a woman shot in the face by a rubber bullet. I was lost for words when she couldn’t run from the flash bang thrown at us as we sought a medic. I was lost for words after being shot myself, after being tear gassed and running from explosions and pellets full of fiber glass. 

I was lost for words standing in a line with other white people in front of the policeshielding the black community behind uswith our hands in the air, yelling, “Don’t shoot.”

I was lost for words looking at a cop through teary eyes and smokeyelling, “Black lives matter,”as if it was up for debate. I was lost for words when his head hung low after making eye contact with me. 

I was lost for words looking at the cop in front of me through teary eyes and smokeyelling, “Black lives matter,”as if it was up for debate.

I was lost for words at a peaceful protest in Newport Beachjumping out of the way of a white man trying to run us over with his car, watching my friend get hit on her bike. I was lost for words when I saw the hatred and rage on his face as he aimed for us—something I had never seen so palpably before. 

I was lost for words when I watched a 7-year-old black girl stand in the middle of our protest, crying out, asking if she would be killed next. 

I was lost for words when we collectively sang, “We shall overcome.”

I was lost for words in Kansas City, marching single file with hundreds of others, in complete silence, wearing the names of so many lives stolen as we mourned in solidarity. 

I was lost for words when I watched strangers who look nothing alike embrace, laugh, cry and dance with one another. 

I was lost for words when I read the comments from family friends, filled with anger and ignorance. 

I was lost for words when I read the comments from family friends, filled with anger and ignorance. 

I was lost for words after I sat with my black friend, apologizing for the times I didn’t see, I didn’t hear and I didn’t look closely enough. 

I have been lost for words for some time now, but we do not grow in an isolated silence. Silence is the side of the knee on neck and the bullets through doors. In these times, when it feels like there are more walls than bridges, what do we have in common?

Under the riot gear, under the kind police, the racist police, the protestor, the grieving mother, the fearful child, the Democrat, the Republican, the white skin, the brown skin—is a human being. A human trying to navigate the unravelling of a long-awaited revolution to break a system created to oppress black people.

Under all of these variations of people is a deeply rooted narrative of fear. A narrative that is now being forced to the light. A narrative that is finally being heard and seen. 

In fire,
In blood,
In chants,
In tears,
In education,
In listening,
In community,
In speaking up. 

The broken story that our ancestors created is being shoveled out. It’s being lifted up and put on display. We are seeing the caved in backbone that is the history of this nation. 

We are in the midst of a long-awaited revolution. A revolution whose central plea I’ve heard as: Why haven’t black lives mattered? Why can’t I breathe? Why is brown skin interpreted as a weapon?

We are in the midst of a long-awaited revolution.

This is where I have found my words—in the outrage, in the desperation, in the anger, in the grief, in the confusion and in the innate knowing that I have a part in changing this system that was built to oppress and control POC.  

I have found my voice in thisfear can only be conquered by a relentless communal compassion, education and bold action rooted in love. We are all seeing the power of unitingof community. 

As a white woman, because of nothing but my skin, I have found the ways my privilege can be used. How can you contribute to the revolution whose mantra is the allotment of breath?

Take time alone to process.

Get quiet. Ask yourself how you can be a part of the revolution. 

Deeply learn the backbone of this country for what it is. 

There is a revolution outside of your door. It doesn’t matter how tightly you lock the doors or how deep in your house you hide—a change is happening. A long awaited, far too late change is finally interfering with the traditions we have grown to call “correct.”

Challenge yourself.

Open the windows. Discuss. Be heartbroken. It is the least we can do for our beautiful black brothers and sisters who have survived an oppressive, racist experience in our country.

There are many ways to get involved: educating ourselves through books and podcasts, listening, asking questions, signing petitions, donating, contacting local government, voting, attending protests, checking ourselves daily with honesty, as well as organizing events, panels and rallies. It is also important to approach every interaction with humility, honesty and love. We must dedicate our lives to ensure that every human being can breathe.

Breath—it’s our first introduction to the world. You don’t earn it. It is our holy commune with the sacred grounds of life. Not a single human needs to defend their right to it, but we live in a world where that is a reality. We will continue to fight and to demand reform until we can collectively exhale.

I was talking with friends as we organized a rally for our small Missouri town, and we discussed how we will be teaching our children about this historic moment. What do you want to tell your children and your grandchildren? How will you tell them you fought in the battle for mankind’s breath?

How will you choose to engage in the conversation on race? Why is this fight so important?

Image via Taylor Butters

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