on the other side of the world,
the funeral of an African-American man
is taking place right now.
he, unarmed and handcuffed,
was killed by a white officer‘s knee
pressed into his neck
for more than eight minutes.
riots erupted in America
as well has here
and many other communities
suffering, still, under white privileged and fragility.
but these riots
are not about this isolated incident in time.
they are about a long history
of institutionalized and systemic racism.
they remind us that we, white folks,
have lived in “happyland” (Ogette) for too long.
during my time at Harvard,
a few short years ago,
I once said to my white room- and classmate
that America truly does have issues
regarding race conflicts.
I don’t remember the trigger of my statement
and it doesn’t matter now.
shame still sweeps through
as I write and share this.
what happened next still is, to this day,
one of the most important moments of my life.
she sat me down
and reflected back to me just how wrong I was.
the white color of my skin
has only ever supported, furthered, legitimized
each of my dreams and hopes and decisions and steps in life
in America, in Germany and wherever else I went
I’ve since tried, sobered and excited,
to share and leverage my privilege
no matter where I’ve lived and worked.
I’ve fallen short many a time,
but I take this seriously
and I’m open to learning.
this, more than ever before,
is a time for me, for white folks,
to make space,
space on all stages of life
for those who systemically have a lesser
or no claim to them, to visibility, to power.
things will be different then
and they need to be
and that takes trust
and sturdy relationships.
so this is my pledge
to start in my own life and home and growing family
and never settle for comfort and freedom and control
as long it is not granted to others
to the same degree and quality,
but open up the doors
for contemplation and action
each and every day.