Seeing Black & White: Everything is Developmental

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For one of the first times in my life, I walked away. I actually walked away after feeling the sting of having my son being insulted (for being Black), being accused of being “sheltered,” and told I was “contributing to the problem.” I walked away and let me tell you, I’m not the kind to walk away. I walked away because something finally clicked (and maybe because my husband HIGHLY recommended it). The man who was insulting me would not, COULD NOT be reached. He sees black and white. I’m seeing gray. What I’m going to share with you could possibly sound incredibly narcissistic and I guess I risk that judgement. I risk it because I want you to know that this discovery has brought freedom to me. I’m hoping it brings freedom to you.

When I write an entire article about the importance of listening to the stories of People of Color does that mean I don’t want to embrace my dear friend who is terrified for her police officer husband to go to work?

When I say to support “Black Lives Matter,” does that mean that I don’t agree that all lives matter?

When I say to “Pray for Dallas” does that mean that I am anti-Black protesting?

Can I be enraged about police brutality and hold a deep respect for those in law enforcement?

Some of you reading this will understand that I can hold both. I can hold a love for police officers  and for the Black community. I can have a deep appreciation for law enforcement and at the same time see that there is a problem with the current system.

Some people CANNOT hold both.

I’m emphasizing CANNOT because I want you to understand that some people, because of where they are developmentally, neurologically CAN’T sit in a gray space. Things are black or they are white. That is how they see.

These people need to be differentiated from the people who could but WILL NOT see and the people who CAN AND WILL see.

As a writer, it’s scary to put my words out into the world. I’m sure there are times when you’ve posted on social media or had conversations with others when you felt that same risk. When we stand for something charged with the electricity of change, it’s a risk. If they can’t appreciate it, admire it, they’ll be burned by it. And when they get burned, they will try to burn you back.

So let’s peer into this a little closer. What do I mean when I say some people literally can’t sit in a gray space? I can’t be serious, right?

I wish I wasn’t serious but I’m also so relieved that I am.

Before I go on, here’s what I’m not doing.

I’m not excusing hate.

I’m not giving us all a pass to not speak-up.

I’m not saying that anyone is a lost cause.

Here’s what I am saying. We are all on a developmental curve. We develop spiritually, emotionally, and, most obviously, physically. That development is not linear and it’s not increasing at the same rate as chronological age. Emotional development is effected by many factors such as trauma and substance abuse. One of the milestones of emotional development is the ability to hold tension. As Christians, we come to embrace the paradoxical nature of our faith. To become great you must be the least. This is one example of holding tension. Two seeming opposites are true. In fact, it is one that fulfills the other.

#BlackLivesMatter is a beautiful example of this type of fulfillment. In order for “all lives” to matter, we must be honest that Black lives haven’t mattered as much as those of other races. For us to embrace that one does not negate the other is a sign of emotional maturity. As our brains matured, that helped us to see another way. Our minds were expanded and new possibilities were available to us.

Not everyone is so fortunate. Sometimes by choice but often by means of environmental factors, some are limited to a dualistic view of the world. They simply can’t hold both, it has to be one or the other. In the least patronizing way possible, I implore you that we must have compassion for these people. Compassion doesn’t mean aligning, it doesn’t mean excusing. It means recognizing that, through possibly no fault of their own, they CANNOT understand what you are trying so desperately to communicate. These are the people you talk sports with and leave it at that. By all means, test the waters but if you consistently find yourself being attacked, it’s probably best to switch gears. Continue reading

What I Want My White Friends To Know

“I want you to think about what you want your white friends to know.” Tasha sipped her Topo Chico casually. These conversations are familiar for her. As founder of Be the Bridge, a group focused on racial reconciliation, it comes with the job description. I sat there, not feeling quite as comfortable. I felt burdened suddenly. Scared. There is so much I’ve learned in the last few years as I started this journey, I don’t even know where to begin.

The journey I’m on is to be an ally to the Black community. I’ve never considered myself against the Black community, but I wasn’t really educated about their plight so I wasn’t an advocate either. In that sense, I wasn’t fighting the status quo. When you don’t fight the status quo, whether you like it or not, you are facilitating it.

When Tasha asked me this question, it was after a long, gentle conversation about racial reconciliation. She was so kind to me as I shared pieces of my story and I was honored to hear some of hers. Her smile is warm and her eyes still sparkle, even if it is from the reflection of brokenness. She has witnessed so much brokenness. Yet, she still has hope. She gets her strength and hope from Jesus. That’s what she’ll tell you. She is strong and it is clear she was divinely made for this.

I, on the other hand, am not quite so sure I’m made for this. I can be arrogant, impatient and quick-witted. When my mind fires up it’s like a pistol trying to find a target. Perhaps a bad metaphor during these times, or maybe a perfect one.

Well, my mind has fired and here’s what I’m ready to shoot: Instead of bullets that kill, how about rubber ones that stun. The ones that stop you in your tracks but don’t end your life. Friends, I want you to stop. We all need to stop for a moment and take a look around us. There is a message being sent to us and if we’re not careful, we’re going to miss it just like our predecessors did.

White friends, here’s what I want you to know. Colorblindness is not the solution. That option flew off the table years ago when Black people and other people of color were oppressed and brutally treated in our country and throughout the world. Color matters. It effects the daily lives of us all. That cannot be undone at this time. If it’s unity you want, then first we must hear the pain and tend the wounds.

Take this picture in. A man is furious with his roommate because he repeatedly uses harsh language and demeans him in front of his other buddies. He’s been patient and compliant, mostly because if he isn’t, he’ll be subject to more pain. Years have gone by and he’s tolerated this treatment, but now, suddenly, he has had enough. So he stands-up to him. He yells, “You’ve been treating me like crap for years and I’m over it! Enough!” His roommate stops, looks at him and says, “I’m not really sure what you’re talking about, but I’ll try to be nicer.” He is nicer… most of the time. Now his words are passive aggressive. There’s still an undercurrent of disrespect. At times, the roommate calls him names behind his back. Finally, he calls him on it, “I’m so over this! I deserve to be respected!,” he demands. The roommate doesn’t even look at him this time but continues to read his magazine and says, “Everyone deserves to be respected.” The man stares at his roommate. It’s pointless. He won’t listen to the frustration or the pain that he is feeling. Why even bother?  Continue reading

4th of July Fun: Photo Dump

Living in Buda really allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds, city life in Austin isn’t far away but on days like the 4th of July we get to indulge in some small town fun. It really feels like our own Stars Hallow. I love it. I love it to the point that I almost cried about 5 times on the morning of the “parade” down Main St. Our family is gold. My heart is so full.

Kids of all ages strolled down the street, their scooters, wagons, bikes and 4 wheelers all dripping with red, white and blue. We met up with some friends, waved at people we knew and ended at a little festival touting train rides, bounce houses and snow cones.

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Later that day we had neighbors, family and friends over for a grill-out and fireworks. I am so thankful for this community. We celebrated 7 years of marriage today too! It really was a special day.

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Hope you all had a fun and safe 4th!!