The last few days in the United States have been especially grim. On August 3, there was a horrible shooting in El Paso, Texas at a busy Walmart. Just thirteen hours later there was another one in Dayton, Ohio in an area bustling with nightlife. Like so many other people, I feel heartbroken and just really out of sorts. Admittedly yesterday was an especially hard day for me. I am always very open about my struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I manage with a lot of deep breathing and daily Lexapro, but I found myself in a panic about leaving my home. The thought of even doing something mundane like going to Walmart or Target, or even just going to pick up a coffee at the Starbucks drive-thru had me paralyzed with fear. I tend to go to Starbucks sometimes with the littles and get a coffee, and then park for a little bit so I can get some work done; answer some e-mails and take care of administrative stuff.
I couldn't make myself leave, though. I wasn't able to get myself dressed, get the kids dressed, and leave the sanctuary of my home. The fear just kept rising and rising in my throat until I felt like it was choking me. I texted Sean about how I was feeling. He made the reasonable suggestion that maybe I should bring the kids by his office; he thankfully works somewhere that it would be okay. My mind started to spin. He is an accountant for a property management company. Honestly, I worry enough about him on a regular day; angry people come to his job all the time and I always think about if the wrong person would come along with a weapon. The thought of not only my husband but my two youngest children being in a potentially unsafe situation was just too much.
That is where I was at. That is where we are at in this country. I am afraid for my husband to go to work. I am afraid to take my children places where I would normally take them. I am afraid of being a target. I am afraid of having to martyr myself for my children and them having to live the rest of their lives with that knowledge on their back.
I'm sure a lot of people think this is me being hyperbolic, me being overly cautious, me just thinking way too much.
Tell that to the children of Jordan and Andre Anchondo, who were brutally murdered in El Paso. Jordan, trying to protecting their two month old baby. Andre, trying to protect Jordan. A mother and a father who created a human shield and whos baby will live knowing that their parents loved him so much that they gave their lives for him, but will not grow up with their loving embrace and the sound of their voices. Neither will his two sisters.
It shouldn't be this way. We shouldn't have to live this way.
As a black woman, with a black husband, and black children, I already feel a great deal of stress and strain. If I am brutally honest with myself, my world hasn't been the same since Trayvon Martin was murdered and his murderer got away with it. I am painfully aware of the fact that there are many people in this country (and all over the world; racism isn't just an American problem) that know nothing about my family other than the fact that our skin is not white and would rather see us dead than alive. I have lived with the specter of racism my whole life, but the times that we are in now that are enabled by the highest office in the country, are especially scary. Especially as a mother. I look at my three sweet children and I fear for the path that they will have to walk.
I write this for several reasons. The first of all is that if you are scared, if you are feeling panic and sadness and worry, you are not alone. Do the best you can to be gentle with yourself and give yourself whatever time you need to breathe as easy as possible. It is okay to not be okay. Today was a better day for me. I took the littles to get some gas in the car and I did my Starbucks 'office hours' for a little bit. I still felt a lot of trepidation, but I did the thing. If you are struggling, you can do the thing too. The only way through these things are going to be together.
Secondly, take racism and white supremacy seriously. If you are someone that enjoys reading my words, that likes hearing about my family and seeing photos of us, please take what is going on to heart. Stricter gun laws and gun control are absolutely needed. No one is going to convince me that civilians need assault rifles. As well, though, look at the cause of the shooting in El Paso. There is a long history of bigotry and racism in our country; we can't make racists afraid 'again' because they have never been afraid. We need to make them afraid NOW.
Look at your privilege. Get out and vote for legislators that will bring change. Don't stand by and just watch racism and xenophobia.
If we want to be better than this, we have to actually BE better than this.
It is time to actually make this country into what it should be.