making space

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

hard

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

across time.

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 listening

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.

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