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Pull Up a Seat

For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for equality and inclusion, and have always enjoyed writing. Initially, I started blogging to document the memories of our growing family and the lessons of parenthood. The more I wrote, the deeper I fell in love with the weight and beauty that words hold.

As a mother of two little ones, married to my high-school sweetheart, and working full-time as the director of a nonprofit organization, my life is full of meaning and love...and chaos. For someone who moves quickly and talks a lot, I found the process of writing healing and restorative, allowing me the time and space to reflect and savor the lessons. Over time, my blog became a space for me to wrestle with the challenges of life, and little by little I started to find my voice about the bigger issues of our time, and in particular, racial justice.

Motherhood also brought a heightened level of accountability and urgency for using my privilege and opportunities to impact positive social change. It wasn’t enough to just talk about celebrating diversity; I had to live it. Our life, our relationships, our choices had to reflect our values in a way that would leave no questions about where we stand and what we believe. Although we had friends of different races and faiths, none of my inner circle was diverse. We had a lot of work to do, and I felt unsure about where to start to create a more authentic life that I could be proud of and that we could model for our children.

In the summer of 2013, something snapped. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed in Florida, and the jury returned a not-guilty verdict for his killer. Beyond the heart wrenching and controversial decision, I saw a nasty side of America that I could no longer ignore, and was devastated by the callous response and shallow justifications from people close to me in my life. Like many others, I mistakenly thought we were further along with race relations. I felt overwhelmed, infuriated, and devastated to see it all just bubbling over.

As a child, I had been taught that the ideals of equality, justice, and compassion were synonymous with our faith and religious practice. We were taught to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective; and if we couldn’t seem to do that, we had no business passing judgment at all. The very notion of white privilege was embedded in our family values, even if we didn’t call it that. We were taught to believe we could do anything we wanted with hard work and perseverance. It was also clear, however, that we were not better than anyone else and that we had a responsibility to help others -- to give back and make this world a better place.

At the same time, growing up in a predominately white suburb afforded me the privilege of being oblivious to the reality of systemic inequality and racism. I can see now that the amount we care about race, or any civil rights issue, is directly proportional to the number of people we know and love who are affected. Relationship and community are essential ingredients to living a meaningful and purposeful life. It wasn’t until I intentionally sought out friendships with people from different backgrounds, races and religions, and began to face our ugly history, that I could make an intentional choice to pursue anti-racist activism. What’s more, my life, my worldview, and my passions have all become more complex and more vibrant, as a result.

This journey is not without discomfort and many, many mistakes but there is too much at stake to not keep trying. So, I've started to blog as a collection of thoughts and experiences along the road to racial equity, as I grapple with my own whiteness and learn how to guide my children to use their blessings and privilege to be compassionate, kind, anti-racist, and to make this world a better place.

I believe we were created with two ears and one mouth for a reason. It is my mission to listen and learn as much as I can, and then use my voice to impact social change. Won’t you pull up a seat and join me on this journey? The path towards a more positive and just world requires each one of us to rethink what community means and then work together to build that future.

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