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.
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
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 :
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
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)
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
“13th” (documentary available on Netflix)
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander”
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
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. “
GOOD GRIEF… It’s complicated grief– but I had to let it out.