a quiet, internal reckoning

There are important conversations happening in the world right now and everyone is trying to find their place within them. Sometimes it is at the forefront with a megaphone. Sometimes it is with your social media, your art, your wallet. But sometimes the move is to stay muted with the goal of letting other voices be heard. I am a person who likes to know what I'm talking about — I think I get that from my grandmother. Listening and learning have always been my comfortable default. So I'm well equipped, in a sense, to take the influx of information being thrown my way. But if I want to speak in "always"-s, which I try to stay away from, I can also say that life always finds a way to smack me in the face with the things that hurt the most. These are the things I must acknowledge in order to survive.

This spring and summer we have experienced the brutal deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,  Elijah McClain, and so many other Black individuals at the hands of the police. We should know by now that killings of this kind of have been rampant in American society since the country's conception. There is much to unravel in this systemic violence. Significant change is needed, and while I am ready to advocate for it, I am not ready to amplify my voice when there are so many people bringing brilliant emotion and ideas of change to the conversation. I ask that anyone reading this make time to read the words of a Black woman, a Black trans person, a Black non-binary person. We as white people have so much to learn.

My goal has been to stay consistently engaged. Read, watch, take in as much information as I can. The only option is to look at my internalized racism head on and dismantle it. There is racism in all of us as white people, whether we like it or not. I welcome all conversations. To me, it is easy to see where white people fit into this battle. It is our job to do the work. All of it. The radical rebuilding of our world is crucial to the safety and livelihood of anyone who is not white. These people have had no choice but to exist within systems rooted in white supremacy.  

Yet as the conversation moves swiftly to defunding or abolishing the police, we are inevitability met with a conversation about accountability. I believe in accountability. I believe that people who do bad things should face consequences for their actions. But what I more so believe is that the definitions "good" and "bad" are subjective at their easiest and inseparable at their most difficult. Let me be clear: this gray area is NOT where the act of killing innocent, unarmed people of color exists. That could not be more clearly heinous. The gray area exists in what to do with those who commit these crimes. And is this gray area is dissected, it rounds gently to the subject of what we do with anyone who is deemed an "abuser". Some feel it best to righteously exile these individuals in the name of their own actions. Others gravitate towards to the healing power of community, and feel we should open up dialogues with these individuals in hopes of their salvation. "We", as a collective society, are trying to bringing rampant abuse to the light and ask hard questions about the best way to handle it. 

This is where my brain shuts down.

There has been so much abuse in my life. Mentally at the hands of my mother and father, though mostly unintentional, . Physically at the hands of men, so many men, from lovers to strangers. I have watched people I love put their trust in others only to be shown violence and heartbreak in return. I have wronged and been wronged. I have fought back and kept quiet. My own experiences have yet to be made into a narrative I feel I can control. I have been struggling to find my words on this topic for years. 

Today, now, I am still struggling. I am also struggling with how to end this post. How do you "sign off" when the journey, the feeling itself, is far from over? I still have my own voice to find and much work to do. But this is the start. This is the beginning of letting myself into a conversation I can be a part of. And for now, that has to be enough.