Disclaimer: This blog was not intended to be an in-depth analysis or opinion of the circumstances happening in the United States today. I admit, the title is misleading and in this piece I offer a light opinion which may be interpreted that I don’t care or feel the need to address more pressing issues such as systemic racism or the future of the police in the United States. This is not the case; as I mention in this blog, I realize that I am not an expert in any of this, so I don’t feel that I should be inserting my specific opinions into the conversation. Perhaps that warrants the idea that I should not have put my opinion out there in the first place, but then again, I am receiving mixed messages regarding joining the conversation, etc.
I appreciate all of the feedback that I have received and I do not disagree with many of you — however, I will always be a believer in the power of a simple act of kindness. I know kindness will not solve our nation’s issues and is in many ways an over simplification, but I am a believer that there is always value in listening to others.
Additionally, I have heard feedback from multiple friends that this is a humanitarian issue and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I believe that our media has painted it in a political lens which is why I chose to frame this blog within that framework.
I am rarely vocal about my political beliefs on social media - mainly due to a fear of being attacked and not wanting to engage in and contribute to negativity - however, I want to share a perspective. Yet, before I share that perspective, I must first tell you a bit more about myself.
I am a moderate, meaning, I hold both conservative and liberal beliefs and values.
(Side note: I realize none of this is about me. And that is why I was hesitant to initially post this because I realize that fact. However, I also am a writer and have a voice, (which I realize is a privilege in itself) and that reason alone is why I am now choosing to share these thoughts.)
I studied at a Minnesota Liberal Arts college, spending a significant amount of my undergrad in departments that boldly claimed and taught liberal ideals. As an undergraduate at this same school, I spent a semester interning in Washington D.C. for a Republican senator, an experience that opened doors for me to interact with and learn from both the Republican and Democrat parties. And, since before I can even remember, I have been involved in the arts. As is the culture with the arts, this sphere of activity is often more liberal in nature; thus, many of my most formative experiences and conversations have been influenced by liberal perspectives and many of my closest and dearest friends lean left. As for the media, I receive headlines and contributions from CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times in my inbox each morning. I also follow both Candace Owens and Michelle Obama on social media. And, to paint an even larger picture, my immediate family is proudly conservative and I have a brother who is black and from Haiti. With all of this being said, I can’t go without saying that I am a white woman who has benefited from a place of privilege in society.
Yet, from all of these experiences and individuals, I have discovered with time that I hold moderate beliefs, and with this point of view I strive to be intentional with how I listen and learn from both sides.
And so, these past few weeks I have been listening, reading, observing, and learning.
What happened to George Floyd sparked a revolution across our nation, and as is the case with all social justice issues, it quickly becomes political and there seems to be a side to be picked.
I don’t claim to be any expert on race or have extensive knowledge of our nation’s current systems in place. I realize that racism is an issue that is deeply ingrained in the history of the United States and has been ongoing long before I came to be on this planet. And, because of my place of privilege in society, I will never truly grasp or understand what a black person living in America today has to deal with on a regular occurrence.
Yet, if anyone were to ask a young moderate white woman about her thoughts concerning the matter of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, they might hear thoughts similar to those that I have listed below. The following are my takeaways from these past few weeks, lessons and beliefs that I currently find to be true.
Friends, perhaps I am an idealist, but why is it so *damn difficult* for people to listen openly to another’s point of view? It often seems impossible for us to withhold judgement and instead immediately start defending our own point of view and casting our personal verdict.
I get it: we’re human, and being kind is not an easy task, especially when passion, power, and topics regarding privilege are at play.
I encourage you to strive to understand what you may fear and to be patient with what you may not understand. There is power in words and value in hearing various points of view. I urge you to listen and respond effectively and respect others. Watch this TedTalk if you want to be inspired with how to openly engage with opposing viewpoints and people who might think differently than you.
I do not wish to be attacked or debate with any of you. That is not my intent of posting this; yet, I realize that is probably unavoidable because I just posted a plethora of controversial opinions and ideas and as the nature of social media, it ignites and perpetuates debate. However, as I said, I do not wish to debate you. I am currently exhausted from arguing and instead I urge you to engage kindly with others. Do what you can do educate someone who might think differently than you and make your points so they can see your viewpoint as best as possible. Finally, understand that you won't be able to force them to change their beliefs, only they can do that for themselves.
Please. Be kind, listen, and learn. Those steps are crucial if we want to see progress.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.