This is 31 conversations from the front porch day 30… you can find the rest of the series here.
Day 30: Fear Made Me Do It
I remember when Treyvon Martin was murdered. And I remember the day his killer was found not guilty. I hit the path to jog the trail around the lake and home. I had no idea where to begin with what I was thinking and praying. I had no one at that point in my life to stretch out towards to try and understand better. As I made my way around the curve of the lake I noticed a young black teen sitting along the water on a bench. He had a notebook and pen in his hand – the writer in me recognized the creative spirit in him.
I also recognized his sorrow….but I didn’t know how to approach him.
Actually that probably is not the full truth – knowing how to approach people has never been my problem. My truth: I was afraid to be seen as too white. In my fear I kept walking. My fear of doing it “wrong” kept me from walking across the grass and sitting down beside this young one in his sorrow. I was afraid I would look dumb. Perhaps I was more worried about being seen as cool then being vulnerable.
In that pausing and moving on I missed an opportunity. I could have been the one white woman to listen to him that day. I could have been the one person to sit with him in his sorrow and try to understand, but I was afraid. He may have been the one person that could have spoken truth into my confusion and sorrow – one black voice to help me see more clearly. We needed each other. But I did not even try. I kept walking.
Fear is almost always behind the stories of our biggest regrets.
- Fear covers our mouths, our eyes, and our ears.
- Fear causes us to hide away our gifts.
- Fear keeps us from telling the truth.
- Fear mocks our stories.
- Fear keeps us from leaning towards others.
- Fear keeps us mute and terrified and unable to connect.
- We are terrified of being exposed…
Fear keeps us from being where we need to be, and how, and when, and what, and why.
In fear I kept up the pace and made the bend towards home.
I didn’t lean in. I didn’t speak up. I made a choice to not understand.
Exercises For Your Own Front Porch Conversations
Thoughts: Discussions and arguments about race are everywhere right now. I have had a lot of conversations about race on the front porch. Passing discussions with my neighbors during the Baltimore riots. All I know to do in the midst of it is to listen and set down my fear of doing something wrong in favor of learning something right.
- Where were you when George Zimmerman went free?
- Did you talk about it? Did you lean into your neighbors and friends and family of color to understand better?
- When you see a new video of a brown child being wrestled to the ground what do you feel? How do you see it?
- Do you instantly blame the young person for being disrespectful and non-compliant?
- Do you rush to defend the one using force?
- How often do you sit down with those different then you to listen and laugh, to hear their stories and weep with them?
- Do these discussions make you angry? Defensive? Sorrowful? Hurt?
- What is one way you can choose to respond in love and compassion instead of fear?
- If I had to do it over again – I would have gotten mud on my shoes and sat down with that young one for a moment to let him know I don’t understand, but that I was very sad and he was not alone in his grief. ♥