The world is roiling right now. There are waves of emotion crashing on us from all angles, each vying for importance and significance in our minds. It can leave a person feeling strong and powerful, or completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Or both, at different times.
We went to a Black Lives Matter rally this evening. It is a topic that is hard to talk about and even harder to work into every day discussions with the kids. It is very easy to say, we are good people, we are not racist, Vermont is so white anyway, my kids are kind, we don’t need to worry about this stuff. But we do! And they need to know about it! The civil unrest and Black Lives Matter movement is all around and needs our attention. We need to educate ourselves and have those tough conversations.
The rally was organized by a woman Alan works with on the Select Board. I know her as a mother in our school district as well. I have taught her kids and coached her kids, and my kids have gone to school with hers. She started with an opening statement, then proceeded to name black people who have died at the hands of the police, listing their name, age, and “crime.” The list went on and on and on and on. She then asked people to kneel or lay down with their hands behind their backs. Alan and Eve laid down, but Lex and I were more comfortable (emotionally) kneeling. They played somber music for what felt like forever, but I suspected it was the time that George Floyd was on the ground with an officer’s knee on his neck. She confirmed that when the very long eight minutes and 46 seconds ended.
By this point we were nearly an hour into the event. I decided to take the kids for a walk around the green and help Lex find a bathroom. We approached the few stores that were open, but none had public bathrooms. I then decided to ask one of the police officers, but not before pointing out the irony (is that the right word?) of how easy and comfortable and “right” it is for us, as white people, to walk up to a police officer while people of color fear the police and generally do not see police as community helpers. We talk a lot in school about community helpers and police are always included. It hard to wrap my white mind around the fact that sometimes police are not helpers. Anyway, the officer was nice enough to tell us about a gas station down the road and even offered to bring Lex into her office (a few blocks away) if he really need to go badly.
At that moment, the sky opened up. Huge rain drops came pummeling down. Thunder roared and lighting crackled. We ran back to Alan, packed up our stuff real quick, and headed for the car. We had been extremely lucky to get a parking spot right on the green, so the car was close by. Many people stayed with their umbrellas and their signs, and I felt a little guilty leaving, but it didn’t feel safe (or comfortable!) with the rain and lightening. We spent the ride home discussing the rally, the weather, and the rainbows all around.
Last week I compiled a summer reading list for the family. The books should be here soon. Some of the books Lex and I have read already, and some none of us have read. I’m also gathering some videos and movies to watch. I need to figure out a schedule or system or something, otherwise I’m afraid we’ll never get around to watching/reading them. But that is one of my goals for this summer. Continue the dialogue, make sure my kids are aware of the problem, help them become informed allies.
But sometimes, you need to let your mind rest.