I can’t pinpoint what it is about this photo that brings me such joy. Is it just seeing the tiny knit hat which covered the head of every child we brought home from the hospital? Is it the glimpse into the sassy, spectacular teenager my six-year-old will become? Or is it merely remembering to capture a moment that could have easily been missed in the time-consuming chaos of parenting?
I wasn’t going to write anything because I worried words would fail, but I think keeping silent is worse.
I am appalled and devastated that our country is so steeped in racial violence. It’s a sickness, and we aren’t getting better.
For merely having a President Obama bumper sticker on our car, my family has been harassed in public by random white people to the point that I took it off because it was creating an unsafe environment for my children.
I have had many strongly worded liberal bumper stickers on my car yet no one has ever yelled at my family in a restaurant. No one has ever rolled down their car window to yell at my husband. And this sticker only stated his name: Obama. I can’t support my own president because people are so offended by his mere existence as leader of our country.
But I’m a white person who can peel off a sticker and find safety again in my community. Black people cannot remove their skin to safely walking down our streets. To safely worship God. They are harassed. They are beaten. They are killed. For being black. It’s not just news stories and bystander videos. It’s statistics. Cold, hard facts about our justice system, our housing system, and pretty much any way to survive in this country.
We lie about who we are and what we stand for as individuals and as a country. It’s beyond dishearting. It’s dangerous. But only for the people who don’t look white. How can we continue to live this way?
“Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night. And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel. Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship. Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps. This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.” —President Obama on the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina
We KonMari-ed all our clothing from the baby to the Scott and now we had to face our biggest, most heart wrenching task: our books. We decided to start grownup books because I couldn’t do it all at once and the KonMari Method suggest splitting it into categories if it seems too much. However, I didn’t even take a before picture because once we decided to take every book off our shelf, I had to just go with it or I’d give up even with just grownup books.
Scott really didn’t want to take all the books down (Why can’t we touch them on the shelves to find joy? Because the Konmari Method says so.), but I think it really made it easier to let books go — maybe because I didn’t want to reshelve them.
Honestly, Scott and I were both shocked at how many books I gave up without rancor. But while going through and holding each one, I realized how many of them were about ego for me: Oh, I read this philosopher and this poet and this great, obscure novel. LOOK AT MY SMARTNESS AND COOLNESS. Oh right, nobody cares. Plus, I loved the idea of passing the book on rather than holding on to something I had not opened in a decade.
I kept books that I loved enough to have reread and/or wanted to introduce my children to one day. I also kept books that were given as gifts and reading those inscriptions lifted me up with all the griefI’ve faced over the last month. I also found two of the four books I’m currently reading. It felt wonderful to let go of books that had nothing to do with our life and to open up our bookshelves to everything we love: fabulous books, family photographs and beautiful artwork.
And yes, the kids’ books are next. Maybe this week? I can’t wait!