Dear Man With A Dog,
It was a beautiful morning today, don’t you agree? I am sure that you were enjoying it as you walked your cute dog in our village.
I was there, at our Be The Change wall, to look at all the things that members of our community have written/drawn on it. I was there to check if any hate speech had been left there. Thankfully, there was none and I was walking away very happy because it was so good to see word/art that represented many people’s varying thoughts about racial equality… all done in respectful ways.
That is when our paths crossed. I have been thinking of our encounter this morning as I have gone about my day. It could have gone better and that makes me sad. I thought I would write you to share with you how much I wish it had gone differently.
I wish… that you would have said “Good morning.” instead of gruffly saying “White lives matter too. White lives matter too.” to me as I walked away from the wall.
I wish… that you would have wanted to find out why I was there instead of assuming I was someone writing something you might not agree with.
I wish… that I would not have been slightly scared and felt brave enough to have stopped and talked with you. If only you had known that something that happened to me long ago that causes me to go into self-preservation mode when things happen, like being alone on a street with a man walking toward me.
I wish… that we could have had a conversation about the wall. You would have found out that I was actually the one who was asked to paint it. You would have found out that I was honored to do it with the help of 4 amazing teenagers. You would have found out that 2 of them drove 30 minutes to help me because they are compassionate, loving young women who just simply care about people. You might have gained a new, fresh perspective on today’s youth. You would have seen my heart for a unified community.
I wish… that I could have told you that I actually agree with you. White lives do matter. Of course they do! I obviously care about my own life, the lives of all of my family, and the majority of my friends…as we are all white. So, of course, their lives matter to me.
I wish… that I could have expressed for you why I believe I need to say black lives matter. I have great empathy and heartache for my black friends because I hear how differently they have to go about their daily life only because the color of their skin. The fear they live in is unimaginable. The untrusting looks they get when they enter a store make me beyond frustrated. The way their children are treated at school that is greatly different than how my children are is very unfair. The exhaustion they feel from always being on guard is unhealthy. The scars their souls bear because of the countless times they were demeaned, or disrespected, need healing. The crippling fear they have when their children walk out the door is beyond my understanding because I have never experienced that level of anxiety with my kids. And this has gone on for hundreds of years. My heart aches for them.
I wish… that I could have been able to tell you that I, because of my Christian faith, believe that God made all of us, loves us all, and wants us all to love each other. I also believe that God wants me to, when seeing an injustice being done to one of His children, stand up for them. So, yes, all lives matter, but when some lives don’t seem to matter as much to some people as others, I am called to stand up for them and demand justice. My spirit desires to help them.
I wish… that I could have heard from you about why you feel so strongly about this that you needed to grumpily mutter that to a complete stranger. I truly am a person who strives to see all sides of something and longs for “all sides” to be heard. I wish I had heard from you way more than 8 words so I could show you I care about how you feel.
I wish… that I could have asked you if you had been hurt in the past by someone standing up for this.
I wish… that I could have found out a bit about your life, and the perfectly caring human I am sure you are, so I wouldn’t have been scared…. and, if I am honest, a bit angry.
I wish… that your first instinct wasn’t to be confrontational and my first instinct wasn’t to hide.
I wish… that we could sit down, at a table (6ft apart of course), with a few other people, and talk together instead of walking alone.
I wish… you could see that the wall was meant to be a place where people could come, humbly, and have good, respectful, kind conversations and admit they don’t know everything. They would listen to others, and, hopefully, would learn from each other.
I wish you and I hadn’t missed the chance to do just that.
With humility and hope,
The Woman At The Wall