Yesterday was the hardest day yet.
I was way down deep in my feelings of grief and isolation. I think it finally hit me all at once, the loss of so many things... most especially a fundamental sense of safety in my own body - not just due to concerns about the virus, but now additionally because of the hate and ugliness that is playing out against people who look like me. Additionally hard is that no one in my immediate circle of love and support, as I'm surrounded by mostly white family and friends, can really understand what this experience is like. I've never felt more vulnerable and separate -- and then it also occurred to me that this level of intensity may be what it feels like to live as a black person in this country every single day, an awareness that felt crushing on top of everything else. I cried a lot.
And so I started writing this soapbox of a post:
I'd like to clear something up for anyone who is still uncertain - we are all racist. Every single one of us everywhere around the globe, has grown up and lives inside a radicalized social construct and hierarchy. This very truth leaves nothing to debate. It's the same pervasive fact that states we all breathe air. We all view the world through a racial lens.
Of course none of this speaks to your personal, political, or moral beliefs and attitudes towards racial differences, it simply is the base line we are all operating from. I am Korean American. You are ----. Racial identity exists.
The race card is always - always - in play
Thankfully, not all of us are perpetrators of hateful, racially motivated derogatory actions. But sadly, such horrible acts draw an inaccurate line that separates "us" (non-racist) and "them" (racist), when really there are not two sides of either or, rather a continuum of nuanced and learned beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that inform how we move through the world only by a difference of degrees.
Maybe it's the ugly and loaded word, "racist" that we don't want to associate ourselves with. Words have power and implication. I get it - it's like staring at the sun. To look at it directly is painful and potentially damaging to our own self-perception. It pushes us to confront our own privilege, which to be clear, is 100% a direct byproduct of racism. Your safety hinges on others not being safe. It is an ugly truth, for sure.
But binary thinking (another limiting social construct to unpack another day) has us all confused. You can be racist AND be a good and decent person. And within this truth, I am always operating from my own biases and probably also doing harm without even knowing it, even if I'm not acting out with aggression.
And then I just felt too sad and tired to try to enlighten and educate.
The antidote I really needed was connection. So I decided to do what I know to do best in order to ease my heart; focus on love, make stuff for other people.
It's week one of Love Notes, and the prompt is "together". I'm so grateful for such perfect timing. It was a good jumping off point to dive into the stash of mini canvases I had put away for a someday project, and so I painted it all out. Three good hours of music and mess making definitely helped.
Today, I feel a bit better. I know there will be good days and bad, and that there is also extraordinary kindness in the world. I'm headed to the post office to drop these into the mail in hopes they ease someone else's aching heart.