Let me be the first to say…Good grief 6/1/2020

I wrote this original email on Monday, June 1, 2020, at 12:19 am because I could not sleep ***A lot of people know that we lost our son Justin 7 years ago when he died from an undiagnosed heart condition during his usual swim team work out at school. He was 16 years old. For many years I was numb … I could barely breathe and sometimes I still can’t. I am sharing this because so many people have been asking my opinion and this is not just for my ” Grief Sisters”. It’s for anyone who wants to be a heart with ears, but does not know what to do.

Losing a child is like no others. For 5.5 years I drove 70 miles round trip twice a month to share in the comfort of other women who were carrying the heavy load too of losing their child. We still connect and talk as often as we can. We hold each other up when we face life issues that bring us down. This is what I call Good Grief.

Sisters,

I guess I’m writing this to you because together we have shared some deep moments of pain these past 6.5 years as we honor, morn and remember are children 24/7.

We know what grief is for losing a child or someone we love dearly. Grief comes in all types of situations. Right now before I go to sleep I just have to tell you that some of my grief I can’t hide. I am a black woman. I am married to a black man, I birthed a black boy and from an early age had to teach Justin how to respond to the rule of order. The weight is heavy…

I don’t care about your political persuasion. My parents and I as a black woman was raised on the premise of accepting all, treating everyone equally, right from wrong, honesty, integrity fairness, and equality, and no bullying. I have multi-international in-laws, nieces, and nephews who accept and honor their biracial identities. However, you will never know my unique pain. 

No one really wants to trade places with a black person.  Would you?

I just watched a professor ask an entire class of white people whether they would be willing to be treated the way blacks are treated today and no one raised their hands – so people should be screaming and yelling- our nation is so divided

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA3A8HLgTH0/?igshid=kenfwy802tfo

 Everyone in my family has faced racism. I just found out today that my nephew was stopped 14 times and counting on his way home from school to his home in a Bay Area suburb- never arrested always scrutinized and let go! 

This week my wound that that has been a sore is wide open, hell it is bursting at the seams.

I have had to make some tough decisions in my life. 

Today I fielded dozens of calls and messages from my White friends in tears and asking how they can help. I told them to read these books

I’ve read and seen the videos of the looting and destruction by people in distress or just plain ignorant. Very disturbing and many were staged Attacks of non-black people. I don’t condone violence. 

I have witnessed friends go silent and avoid the discussion about the “ white elephant in the room” – the infamous Amy Cooper the dog walker in Central Park– who threatened the Black Man like he was a dog,. 

Rant and rage about the destruction – but not about the death of George Floyd or others or other deaths of unarmed black men and women.

Some of the responses are oh too familiar as it was the day Justin died :

Don’t worry

Don’t cry

Be strong 

So I know you must be wondering what I feel – but not sure how to connect – maybe I have not crossed your mind – but you certainly have crossed mind these past few days. I thought : What are my sisters really thinking?  Why have I heard from them? Something was different.

Here are a few other things To see and read if you have not already :




Resources for talking with children about racism and protests
https://www.embracerace.org/resources
https://abcnews.go.com/…/parents-talk-kids-racism-ge…/story…
https://www.gse.upenn.edu/…/talking-children-after-racial-i…

Anti-Racist Education
bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES (Note: this is a large compilation of resources put together outside of our community that we received through KQED’s Mindshift podcast.)
Aspen Ideas with Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be An Antiracist (there is also a book by the same title) 

https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/how-to-be-an-antiracist

Resources for Healing
Racial Trauma Toolkit from the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture
Historical and Current Context and my library providing largely untold but need to know American History 
“Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice” and “Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults)” by Bryan Stevenson
Equal Justice Initiativ: https://eji.org/
“The Half Has Never Been Told” Edward Baptist
“America’s First Freedom Rider” Jerry Mikorenda 
“The Warmth of Other Suns” Isabel Wilkerson 
1619 Project
“13th” (documentary available on Netflix) 
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander”

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

Trevor says it right :

So as you get through the days and years to come living through the aftermath of the civil unrest in our lifetime we are currently facing without ever having to face the other side of grief that I live witnessing discrimination because of the historical stereotypes – the color of my skin – know that you don’t have to be fearful of me of talking about “the white elephant in any room. “ 

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9841376/black-trauma-george-floyd-dear-white-people

GOOD GRIEF… It’s complicated grief– but I had to let it out.

I’m exhausted.

Good night

Love, Susan

AS QUIET AS IT HAS BEEN KEPT…

I posted this yesterday on the FaceBook Page ” I went to a Catholic School in San Francisco”

AS QUIET AS IT HAS BEEN KEPT…FACING RACISM IN SF

I woke up this morning realizing I had to write to this page. Just my thoughts and I’m and not trying to stir the pot. These recent few weeks have been intense. Past memories have surfaced.

I can’t be silent anymore.

As quiet as it’s been kept. 

I’m tired.

Last Sunday during a family call I got more details from my brothers and nephews – all who attended catholic schools in San Francisco and the Bay Area about their stories of getting stopped and frisked while driving home or wherever in SF growing up. Sometimes they were let go as soon as they stated their full name and because of their name recognition “ Toler” Were they the 1% lucky one’s sort of right. But, most people don’t have that benefit!!! 

My brothers poignantly and painfully recounted the dozens and dozens of times they and/or their friends were pulled over – scrutinized intimidated and released- as if it was yesterday… My nephew stopped 14 times and counting on his way home passing through Orinda, CA. 100% of the time they were let go never cited because they were stopped for no apparent reason.

My Dad was an Educator and Police Commissioner in the city — that never stopped the racism he encountered . He continued to stand on the right side and do his best. He did not complain he just kept it in. My Mom was also an educator and a counselor in SF . We were raised on the premise that everything is possible, accepting all,treating everyone equal , the difference between right from wrong, honesty , integrity, fairness and equality and no bullying . I have multi- international in-laws , nieces ,and nephews who accept and honor their biracial identities.

Every school I attended and every job I have had I have faced racism. I use my voice. Many friends in school often told me “I see what’s going on and it’s wrong I agree but I must remain silent …”. Or You should have won for student body President but you are black so I could not vote for you.”

Every African American person I know has encountered racism at various stages of their life and every black man I know has been stopped while driving “ black”. 

Try and understand the history of why the death of George Floyd exposed so much more about inequities in this world afflicting African Americans. The cork was just released from the boiling teapot. 

Listen to the Rev. Al Sharpton he got it right in my opinion 

Or what Kareem Abdul said:

https://www.latimes.com/…/dont-understand-the-protests-what…

As we move forward in this chaotic USA I’m going to live by what my parents instilled in me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend a catholic school in SF. I forged friendships that I still have today and my brothers and sisters did too. 

All I’m saying to you is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Even though your life may not be affected by the plight of people of color know that we all are the mirrors for the children and they watch and repeat every

thing they see. 

Last week I needed to get grounded and read some old notes and quotes my Dad wrote on Giving Children a clear sense of direction in 1971: 

I see it as something for all ages. 

Ten Traits of Character by Burl Toler : 

1. Self- Discipline

2. Compassion

3. Responsibility 

4.Friendship

5. Work

6. Courage 

7. Perseverance 

8. Honesty 

9. Loyalty

10. Faith 

Some of my Dad’s memorable quotes include:

• “Don’t let other people determine how you act.”

• “Do your best and your best will be good enough”

• “Do the right thing”

• “Children learn most of their first character lessons in the home”

• “If you can show me a man who has never made a mistake, I will show you a man who has never made a decision”

• “Treat people the way you want to be treated”