I have never easily embraced the adage, “Life Goes On.” Sometimes, when things rock my world, it feels that time should stop and acknowledge that the Earth just shifted a bit on its axis and that knowingly or not, we’ve just been forever changed. As I readied to write my Thanksgiving post, I became paralyzed by the officer Darren Wilson ruling. The ruling, the justification, the grief, the protests and the violence have me paralyzed. Once again, I am acutely aware of the vulnerability of my children, my friends’ children, those I serve, and many colleagues I work with. How do I raise my black son to not be afraid of the police but to be afraid of their power, including their weapons? As I wrestle with the reality of race in our country in 2014, I was further paralyzed by comments as privileged and insensitive as “I’m watching the Islanders,” or “this is interrupting Dancing with the Stars.”
My gratitude list for this Thanksgiving has surely changed.
I am grateful to the Brown family, for their amazing resilience to call for peace and solutions in the face of extreme grief, anger and betrayal.
I am grateful for friends who know enough to stop and check in, and ask how I’m doing, or other parents of kids of color are doing, with their renewed knowledge of their children’s vulnerability.
I am grateful for colleagues who are willing to acknowledge and talk about it.
I am grateful for my brother-in-law, who just hours before the press conference reminded me to be compassionate, and that there is no “right answer” for one incident when racism is programmed into all of us and our systems from birth.
I am grateful for the Ferguson police officer who weeks ago replied to a protesters question “why do you hate us so much,” with compassion and ultimately a hug.
I am grateful for people and systems willing to acknowledge the vulnerability, grief, anger, frustration, and betrayal of people, families and communities of color all over the country, and who don’t aim to silence voices or minimize pain.
I am grateful that the story isn’t over, and that we can all be a part of writing the next chapter. I am grateful to those who hold hope that the next chapter can be brighter, for all of our children.