Thursday, June 4, 2020

What do you do with the mad that you feel?

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole world seems oh, so wrong
And nothing you do seems very right?

Those are Mr. Rogers' words, from a song he wrote back in 1968. The lyrics keep popping into my mind. I am mad about the death of George Floyd at the hands of the very people whose job it is to protect citizens. I am mad that incidents of brutality against black people have cropped up again and again and again and every single time it seems like it should be a turning point given the outrage and outcries that ensue and then, another death. Ahmaud Arbery was executed by white people two months before George Floyd was.

There is a tidal wave of sadness and grief and fury coursing through our country right now, along with white guilt for not doing enough to combat racism in our communities.

What do you do with the mad that you feel? What do you do when the whole world seems wrong?

You do what you can in your world.

We can confront the uncomfortable feelings we may have about white privilege.

We can talk with our children about that and our experiences observing racism.

We can read them books to help open their minds. The Colors of Us, which takes a positive look at different skin colors, is one of Ben's favorites.

We can use quotes and posts as conversation starters, like this one from Michelle Obama:

Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith
A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on
And this classic from Nelson Mandela:
And this one from pastor Carlos A. Rodriguez:
We can organize or participate in communal efforts even if we don't feel comfortable going to public protests because of the coronavirus. Our town organized a vigil this week for George Floyd; we lit candles and stood outside our homes at 8:15 p.m. 

We can sign petitions demanding policy reforms to address the fact that black people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

We can honor the wishes of Terrence Floyd, George's brother—who spoke out against violence at a prayer vigil, said "let's do this another way" and implored people to get out there and vote—by pitching in with voter registration drives in our areas.

We can make a dedicated effort to support local black businesses.

We can donate to national funds with a mission of racial justice like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change.

We can do more. We can do better. We can use the mad to do good and make good.

Artwork: @tobehonestnl

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