This week's shift change is a somber one. Not my typical...but it wouldn't feel right for me not to share this with you. These are times when our willingness to show up and be vulnerable and imperfect is going to be crucial to making the systemic changes we need in our households, our country and our world.
As a white elected official in a mostly white community, I want to be clear with you about my values, beliefs and thoughts this week and ask you to reflect on yours…especially for the next generation of citizens and leaders in our country.
When I hear a black man asking for help and grasping for air at the hands of law enforcement, we have failed.
When I see the cold stare of a white man that believes suffocating the life out of this black man is justified, we have failed.
When people resort to violence in order to be heard, we have failed.
When we don’t listen to those who have engaged in peaceful protest, we have failed.
When we judge people by the color of their skin, religious beliefs, their gender, sexual orientation or political affiliations rather than the content of their character, we have failed.
When children have to fear going to school, playing with friends, speaking up or learning how to think for themselves, we have failed.
When we see a child spouting hateful, racist remarks, we have failed.
When we use hate, gossip, violence, blame or slander to feel connected and a sense of belonging somewhere, we have failed.
When institutional and systemic racism gains more traction than valuing basic human and civil rights, we have failed.
Regardless of any best intentions, we have failed.
So how do we shift our country and communities toward civility?
We fail forward.
We do better.
We ask more questions rather then thinking we have the answers.
We engage and have the hard conversations, even if we don’t show up perfectly.
We stop hiding behind our privilege and entitlement and acknowledge that without engaging and owning our part in it, it doesn’t get better.
We hold our elected officials, household, business and community leaders capable and accountable, while owning our individual responsibility rather than solely placing blame on the “they”.
We talk to our children and model civility at home at work and in community.
We show up.
Maybe we fail.
But we show up again.
To my son and my white nephews and nieces:
Black lives matter.
Saying that doesn’t mean your life doesn’t.
It means that I am aware that I don’t have to fear for your life or your opportunities because of the color of your skin.
To my black family and friends:
I’m not always the strongest, clearest voice in the room.
In fact, my voice is pretty shaky and my hands are pretty sweaty.
My words don’t always come out as I intend them,
And my actions may not always reflect the full extent of my values.
I know I hold patterns of systemic racism that I don’t fully see or understand.
But I will commit to you to keep trying.
To keep learning.
To do my best to not hide or “opt out”
Or be silent.
Your life matters.
Your gifts, talents and presence make this world better.
And I want you to believe we can change.
I want to change.
How about you?