Today is George Floyd’s funeral and I cannot remain silent. I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of our world, particularly about the appalling reality of police brutality and flagrant racism. We know that racism and profiling are nothing new, but George Floyd’s murder captured on video has ripped the wound wide open. I am sick to my gut to witness such profound hatred and complete disregard for the value of life because of skin color. Black Lives Matter.
I have been hesitant to write until now because I couldn’t find the right words. My feelings have been a jumble of rage, discouragement, hopelessness and despair. But now, I am more uncomfortable in my silence than I am in trying to express myself. The cries for social justice must be heard. How do we undo the centuries of damage done? How can we as a society get out of this mess of white supremacy?
These questions compel me to dig deeper. What are my own prejudices? How have I been complicit in perpetuating systemic white supremacy? Having been raised in the north suburbs of Chicago, I can count on one hand the number of students of color in my high school graduating class of over 600. I don’t believe we are born with prejudices. I believe they are taught overtly or in nuanced comments that draw a hard line between them and us. I cannot deny that I am a white woman of privilege, so I must ask myself — how successfully have I erased that line?
As a business owner, I feel a responsibility to be an upstanding member of our community, our entire community. I own yoga studios and the indisputable fact is that yoga in America is predominantly a white woman’s activity. Even my flagship studio, which is located in a part of Indianapolis ringed by largely Hispanic and Black neighborhoods, is predominantly white. We have always maintained that all are welcome in our studios, but the question is whether all feel welcome. There is still a line between them and us.
I am not writing today on behalf of my studios. It is too easy to hide behind the veneer of my business. I am writing in my own voice to share my thoughts, human to human, soul to soul. All lives are sacred. Our souls are born equal and they die equal. What happens between these two events is what we as whites inflict on the black and brown members of our society. If whites created the problem of racism, then it must be whites who fix it.
I don’t know what my part is in building a better society. I just know I can’t be silent any longer. I am educating myself about the black experience in America. While I may not march in protests, I support the people raising their voices to demand change. I am signing petitions and being a close observer of my own thoughts and actions. It doesn’t feel like much. But, it’s a start in joining with all those who cry “enough is enough.”