The dialogue of America is shifting. Whether you're black or white it's not always clear how to navigate the rough waters of change. Many folks in America are feeling profoundly powerless watching painful events unfold, not knowing how to make a difference, how to ease the pain, or how to contribute to change for the Good of all. Some people shout, some judge, some analyze. In the process, many open discussions turn rancid, leaving many stunned and feeling even more powerless. How can we join together to motivate change for the better and show our support for a more Just and Equitable America when the dialogue is understandably super-charged and heated? Should we speak up or be silent?
That's a hefty question, but D.C. based writer Aaron Goggans offers up an insightful answer in Dear White People: Ferguson Protests are a Wake not a Pep Rally. Some people might take offense to his November post as it has the potential to come across as a GO AWAY sign, but I see it as a C'MON IN sign. It's an open invitation to gain a better understanding of what pulls us together as well as what pulls us apart. The two are inextricably entwined.
Goggan's site, The Well Examined Life aims to increase self-awareness by promoting dialogue. In Dear White People, he proposes a dialogue that requires us [white folks] to Be Silent in order to be heard. Huh? How does that work? Shouldn't we all be shouting our heads off from our broken hearts? For a while now I've been thinking how useless and powerless I am as one American woman in the midst of millions drowning in a sea of confusion, anger, despair and sorrow. What difference could I possibly make in this vast, murky ocean?
The answer came to me in: Dear White People. Goggans politely draws a line to illustrate the subtle yet profound and powerful difference in perspective. I am grateful to him for offering up a healthy dose of Truth as part of an honest dialogue. It has not hurt me, nor has it offended. I hear the voice of Grief and that voice needs to be heard and set free. We can never measure another's Grief, but we can strive to understand it and give it the space to rage before it can transform. Dear White People has shown me a way to be useful: Be Silent in order for my voice to be heard. Here "my" can mean both our collective voice and my own unique voice, too. There is power in standing aside so that others may be heard but there is strength is unity, knowing that we can stand together side by side so that all our voices may speak as one.
This is a provocative way to unite people, but just think about its Beauty...in understanding and accepting what separates us, we can come together through Compassion. This way, when we make our way to peaceful protests all over America, we can look each other in the eye, each of us silently saying "I know what we're fighting for." Grief's voice might separate us some times, but in the end, we ALL mourn.
Here is a untitled poem written by Aaron Goggans...