Reflections On the Moment
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I have been struggling with what kind of statement to make since the
death murder of George Floyd and the explosion of activism in its wake. What right do I have to say something as a middle class white woman? Or as a part of middle management of a small charitable organization? Yes, I have written poetry, shared posts for awareness, given family funds to causes supporting the protestors and people of color, continue to serve as emergency contact for protesting friends, and had some productive conversations with my fellow privileged suburban housewives about how we can all learn and do more. But, as President of the Electoral College, what could I say? So, I didn’t.
We just celebrated Juneteenth, aka Freedom Day. A holiday known as the day African Americans achieved freedom, because the southern states chose to ignore the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 because they were still in rebellion until Lee surrendered in April 1865 and the final proclamation was read in Texas on June 19th, 1865. Further researches show that freedom did not come that day, but rather the tyranny of slavery turned into monetizing the nascent criminal justice system by renting out Black prisoners to perform menial or dangerous labor, which continued until World War II. I don’t know what I am going to say about the rage and sadness I feel inside, but by all the gods, I am going to say it right now. So here we go…
I am 15/16ths White American. I grew up in the Deep South in a city renamed for Andrew Jackson, Florida’s first territorial governor and later our 7th President. He claimed to be for the common man instead of the wealthy, but like most, he meant the common white man. Not the African Americans, the Native Americans, or any other people of color, or women of any race. A city named for the president whose legacy is the Indian Relocation era culminating in the Trail of Tears under his successor. In the seventies and eighties when I was growing up there, racism was overt. The N-word was common. Everyone was judged by their skin color and socioeconomic status. May your god help you if you were the wrong one in both. Being what I think was lower middle class, raised by a single father who worked three jobs, I was what we used to call poor white trash. I was still considered above people of color and given preferential treatment. Even when we were “broker than broke,” I existed in a world of privilege.
My father raised me to love people for who they were and how they treated others, not for our superficial commonalities, but I had little contact with people of color, even at school, as in that time we were two distinct social groups. The Black people I met were old men and women my father knew from one or another of his jobs and they were beautiful, loving people, and they deserved so much better than the life they had, even though they found the joy of it.
I could outline my years of complicity through silence combined with my growing awareness that this could not stand, but I do not want to talk about that. Just like when women shared their #MeToo moment, we didn’t want to hear from men so we could just for this moment in time focus on the systemic abuses of women, though men had obviously suffered, too. We are all victims of the abuses of the powerful. That is the way of the world and it cannot continue.
Now, we must set aside our stories to listen to those of our brethren and friends and strangers of color. If they wish to share their story, it is our responsibility to listen, and to support them in seizing their moment in time. As the lot of women has begun to improve through finding our allies and using our voices, so too must we now be allies and lend our voices where we may to all people of color, but especially to Black people who are really still not free and equal, as they are beaten down figuratively and literally by the existing structures of American society.
Meditate magicians, act upon your conscience, educate yourself, offer yourself in service through providing support at the demonstrations (first aid, water, cleaning up after, a safe ride home, bail, etc), donate to causes shown to be getting the money where it needs to go, promulgate the message of people of color, or whatever else you are called to do by the dictates of your soul. But no longer turn a blind eye to the injustice all around us. No longer think that you can’t do anything as only one of many.
If you are a sibling of color, if it be your will, volunteer for leadership or the U.S.G.L. Diversity Task Force, write for Agape or the EC blog, or reach out to the leadership and tell us how we may help you. We are listening. How we bring true diversity to our Holy Order must be guided by you and your experiences, or it will be guided by a bunch of well-intentioned, slow-moving white folk (no offense to my peers on these teams).
Let 2020 be the year we saw ourselves and each other clearly. The year we set aside our comforts to lift up or defend another star. Siblings of color or those allies fighting injustice in the streets, reach out to us to assist you. Let us move forward together.
#BlackLivesMatter, don’t talk to me about the others right now.
#CryMotherfuckers for the injustices Black people are faced with and die from
Love is the law, love under will.
U.S.G.L. Electoral College