Watch an anti-racism hour with Jane Elliott talking with Waylon Lewis of Elephant, here.
On Sunday, June 7th, 2020, I pulled up to the “Peaceful Protest Rally” in Collinsville, Connecticut—the historic downtown of Canton.
It’s a mostly white town; some will say all-white but I live here and this is my town, one I have grown to love, so that is not accurate.
I sat in the car with my three daughters (ages 12, 9, and 6) to collect myself for a few minutes before getting out and having to put a mask on. I was thinking how timely it was that a student had decided to step up, be a voice of change, and organize this rally.
No more than a minute from stepping out of the car, possibly less as I do not even think I had two feet on the ground, a middle-aged white woman approached me. “I am so glad you are here! Do you know where we are supposed to go?” I caught my inner dialogue of I see, she thinks I must have organized this or know something about it because I clearly don’t look like everyone else.
I replied to this woman with, “Yes, right over by the town hall, you are in the right place.” She replied happily, “Oh good, thank you so much.”
I thought to myself, She made it a point to be here and I am glad, we need allies—this is the first step. But her approaching only me before I had the time to exit my car when all these people were standing around had me slightly bothered. However, this had nothing to do with this individual, who was very pleasant. It had to do with my story and my experiences.
Just a glimpse because there is so much more.
I grew up in Connecticut in a two-parent household. My mom is white and my dad is black—let’s leave it basic for now and not get into nationality and culture.
And throughout my life, I have:
>> Been told about houses being pulled off the market to not be sold to a black man when my parents were looking at houses together.
>> Been told about my mom having to go alone and make an offer on the house they wanted so that the offer would be accepted.
>> Been in my childhood home at night while cowards burned crosses on our lawn.
>> Been followed around as a child in stores while with my dad.
>> Been asked for help as a child while with my mom.
>> Been falsely accused for no other reason than the color of my skin.
>> Been called a “bad influence” by my white friend’s parents because their white daughter couldn’t possibly have met the black man that she was attracted to by herself.
>> Been asked by strangers, “What are you mixed with?” (Actually, by too many people to begin to count.)
>> Been told I must not be black because I have “good hair.”
>> Been careful about going into certain neighborhoods because of the color of my skin.
>> Been in my car working as a pharmaceutical sales rep with my boss while he looked out the widow and said, “I remember when this was a good neighborhood. It is such a disgrace now.” As I peered out my window to only see a black boy (no older than 10 years old) riding his bike. And I still had to keep my composure to finish my day and the rest of my appointments with this disgraceful man in my car. Oh, the anxiety I felt for years to follow at subsequent outside sales positions during a ride-along.
>> Been silenced by the fear of what would happen to my career.
>> Been part of a racial discrimination suit against a former employee.
>> Been “let go” from a job for speaking up about the inequality in my workplace.
>> Been blacklisted from ever getting another job in a field I once loved and even won President’s Club in.
>> Been strong enough to speak up!
This is a small portion of my story, my experiences, and my life.
If you would like to start a dialogue, to ask questions, to gain an understanding, reach out. My job is not to educate you, however, I would be doing a disservice if I did not point you in the right direction. So while we yell, “Say his name,” or, “Say her name,” and people respond with “George Floyd” or “Breonna Taylor,” please realize that these great losses at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect represent every single unjust loss.
This is simply the tipping point. So I yell, “No Justice, No Peace!”
We must begin to embrace change and have empathy because I truly think we have the ability to make this world a much better place—together. We need allies, we need you. Some people say they don’t want to pop the bubble their kids are living in. I say now is the time to do so; they are our future.
Educate, educate, educate! Get really uncomfortable, because that is the only way we change. I’d like to think we are beginning to scratch the surface of “getting there,” which reminds me of a poem by Cleo Wade.
Poem from Heart Talk
the mind says:
this river has no bottom
the heart says:
we can build a bridge here
If you don’t know where to start but want to help, educate, and do your part, start here:
Donate and Support
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Black Visions Collective
- Black Lives Matter
- The Bail Project
- Unicorn Riot
- Know Your Rights Camp
- How To Be An Antiracist Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- Your Silence Will Not Protect You Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race Ijeoma Oluo
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- Heavy: An American Memoir Kiese Laymon
- “Code Switch” (NPR)
- “1619” (New York Times)
- “Pod Save the People” (Crooked Media)
- “About Race”
- “Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast”
- “13th” (Ava DuVernay)—Netflix
- “American Son” (Kenny Leon)—Netflix
- “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Barry Jenkins)—Hulu
- “The Hate U Give” (George Tillman Jr.)—Hulu/Cinemax
- “Fruitvale Station” (Ryan Coogler)—Rent