I am literally nine minutes into an HBO documentary about Bryan Steveson, head of the Equal Justice Initiative, and tears are streaming down my face. He talks about a childhood experience of jumping excitedly into a public pool with his sister, only to find chaos around him as white parents yank their kids out.
He talks about his work, and about how the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Johnnie Carr asked him what he planned to do with his life – seek equality in the justice system – and she said he was going to be “Tired, tired, tired” and that he was going to have to be “Brave, brave, brave”
Not yet even 10AM and I am emotional, sitting here in my lovely house eating my chocolate chip muffin for breakfast and thinking about when I’ll go to the nearby pond for a swim. Images of slaves fade in and out on the screen, as well as the black and white mug shots of young men. They look too young. Of course the slave images make me think of my ancestors. All of what I am learning about their slaves beyond the names found in the Bible notes and Will is gender, age, color; female, 10, mulatto. Male, 17, black.
Humans reduced to a few words and not one of them is the name that their mother gave them. No names. Just gender, age, color.
I am now realizing that something that has always bothered me, will now bother me more acutely. And I am OK with that.
I am OK with being reminded of my priviledge. I am OK with being reminded that others do not have it. And I am OK with wrestling with it and remembering that I must take note and keep learning about the ways in which my everyday life negatively effects the lives of others. Because it is so easy, isn’t it? To live in your world and not question.
I said to someone recently that while I do listen to books about race and social justice, I cannot listen to the constantly due to the heaviness of the topic – and isn’t that the epitome of privilege? How nice that I can put the book about inequity down and take a break and watch a TV show that allows me to walk away.
When others face it every day. All the time.